University of Minnesota

Recognition of Cardiac Infarction During Life

James Herrick of Chicago deserves credit for synthesizing the clinical, electrocardiographic (ECG) and experimental findings leading to a diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction with survival. This, in turn, caused much wider use of the ECG and recognition in the U.S. and elsewhere of coronary syndromes and their more accurate diagnosis, thus, better assessment of trends in heart attack rates and mortality.

Herrick, moreover, properly gave credit in his 1912 article to the prior clear clinical description, not including ECG findings but with diagnoses confirmed at autopsy, of acute infarction in five living cases by the Russian clinician V.P. Obraztsov and his colleague N.D. Strazhesko in Kiev in 1910.

The phenomenon of “on the shoulders of giants” is further illustrated, however, by the same Russians giving credit, without a literature citation, to a Dr. von Hammer for: “until now, only one report intra vitam” of coronary thrombosis, and that in 1878! (Henry Blackburn)