From the Dissection Room: Broken Hearts (Myocardial Infarction)

A portion of the left ventricle of a woman’s heart showing the damage caused by myocardial infarction with evidence of superficial pericarditis. It was taken at the post-mortem of a female patient in 1765. Specimen from the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London.

DEFINITION: Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (fatty acids) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium). [Wikipedia]

DESCRIPTION: ‘The dissection of Mrs Knightbridge: In presence of Messrs Moffat and Irvine. She was an extremely fat woman; the fattest I ever saw. While alive, she drank spiritous liquors in great quantities.The fat on the belly cut five or six inches deep. On opening the belly we found the Liver of an immense size; larger than any two livers I ever saw; and on cutting into its substance, the knives were all besmeared with [fat] so that the cells of the liver were become an adipose substance. The Stomach and Gutts were in general pretty sound. The kidneys were extremely soft and pulpy: much more so than common. The Diaphragm was pushed very high, so as to diminish greatly the cavity of the thorax. The pericardium was loaded with fat. The heart was covered intirely with fat, so as not to see a bit of the muscular texture; and was extremely soft in its consistence. What I thought extremely odd or uncommon, was, that in the Cavity of the Heart, and in all the vessels, both veins and arteries, was a vast quantity of the Oil of [the] body, pure as if strained through a Cloth; and but very little of what might be supposed to be blood: and on opening the stomach, there was near a pint of pure oil in it, yet she had swallowed none. All the muscles of the body had lost their redness; were soft, as if half dissolved or rotten’. [John Hunter, Casebooks, pp. 347-8].

2 comments on “From the Dissection Room: Broken Hearts (Myocardial Infarction)

  1. […] the logo represent a story told on this site: A History of the Barber Pole; Syphilis: A Love Story; The Anatomy of a Broken Heart and The Falciform Amputation […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by A D, Lindsey Bracken . Lindsey Bracken said: The morbid anatomy of a broken heart on The Chirurgeon's Apprentice. Happy Valentine's Day! http://t.co/TP56Zr8 […]

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