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May 23, 1959


JAMA. 1959;170(4):471. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010040067017

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So much has been learned about ventricular fibrillation in recent years that in the future it may be possible to reduce its incidence. However, ventricular fibrillation is still a mystery in that it has no anatomic identity. It leaves no trace when it kills. It confuses the medical intellect by killing when it should not, when anatomic disease is mild and when life appears to be safe. It stops a good heart as readily as it does a damaged heart, in infants as well as in adults. It has no respect for sex or age. It kills with or without warning.

Nevertheless, positive gains have been made to prevent death and to restore life after ventricular fibrillation has occurred. One of the first encouraging signs came in 1899 from Prévost and Battelli, French physiologists, who described a method for the defibrillation of the heart of a cat in which a

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