Historical Background and
That “blood moves in closed circle” was apparently known in the Far
East, several millennia ago, about
B.C., as recorded in the book by
the Yellow Emperor of China written in the Canon of Medicine (Nei
Ching). Ancient Chinese practitioners customarily felt palpable wrist
artery (radial artery) pulsations as a means of diagnosing the cardiac
states of their patients. In this approach, the practitioners were able to
obtain both the strength of the pulsation to infer the vigor of contraction
the heart, and the interval duration of the pulses, hence heart rate.
This seemingly indicates that the importance of the rate-pressure product,
now a popular clinical index of myocardial oxygen consumption, might
even have been considered pertinent at that time.
The supply and
demand of oxygenation, as well as its proper utilization in terms of
energy balance, or ying-yang, is center to achieving body harmony.
Thus, this suggestion of an intrinsic transfer of the energy (Chi)
generated by the heart to the peripheral arteries may have been known
since antiquity, although the theoretical foundation was not established
until much later.
In the West, the observation that man must inspire air to sustain life
led ancient scientists and philosophers to toy with the idea that arteries
contained air rather than blood. This was the notion originally attributed
to Erasistratus in the third century B.C., following the teaching
Aristotle. Aristotle and later Herophilus performed numerous anatomical
studies and the latter discovered the connecting arteries
heart. That arteries themselves contract and relax thus was known in
Galen’s (130-200) description of the ebb and flow of
blood in arteries, though lasted for centuries, was grossly inaccurate.