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November 1963

Discovery of Coronary Sclerosis as a Cause of Angina Pectoris: Contribution of a Forgotten Irish Physician

Author Affiliations


From the Section of the Clinical Cardiology, Buffalo General Hospital.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(5):647-651. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860050061004

Medical history is usually written as a record either of some supreme effort or of some splendid discovery. Although they may have provided material essential to progress, the names and the contributions of many great physicians fall into oblivion.

This paper will deal with just such a forgotten author, the Irish physician, Dr. Samuel Black of Newry. His important observations assisted in the discovery of coronary disease as a cause of angina pectoris and sudden death. The correct dates of his birth and death have been lost, but it is known that he worked during the end of the 18th century. He died between 1839 and 1843.

A short survey will show Dr. Black's relation to the work of the other physicians whose joint efforts revealed the true cause of angina pectoris. William Heberden 1 had given his classical description of "pectoris dolor" in 1768 and had had it published