The measurement of the amount of blood expelled by the human heart defied for many decades the numerous attempts that were made to solve this important problem of physiology. In recent years, however, methods have been developed, so that now exact measurements of the cardiac output can be made. These methods are entering the domain of clinical medicine, and bid fair to furnish important new knowledge of disease and of the action of drugs.
The approach to the problem of measuring the output of the heart has of necessity been indirect. The problem has been attacked by a variety of methods, but all of them have been focused on the measurement of the amount of blood that passes through the lungs each minute.
As long ago as 1870, the German physiologist Fick 1 laid down a principle by which the measurement of the pulmonary blood flow could be accomplished, and
ROBINSON GC. THE MEASUREMENT OF THE CARDIAC OUTPUT IN MAN AND ITS VARIATIONS. JAMA. 1926;87(5):314–317. doi:10.1001/jama.1926.02680050024009
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