The immediate cause of death is a subject of great practical as well as scientific interest. The essential similarity in the condition of most patients within a few hours of death is well recognized, yet the underlying causes of collapse, and even such physiologic sequences as the state of the circulation, the respiratory apparatus, etc., are either unknown or but vaguely understood. Why does an organism which has succeeded in carrying a load of disabilities for perhaps many years break down and cease to functionate at one particular time rather than another? On the answer to this question must depend any rational treatment.
We must first inquire just what is meant by death. The body as a whole may be said to have died when both respiration and heart beat have permanently ceased. But we know that the heart possesses a wonderful intrinsic power of contraction, and that long after
WHITNEY JL. STUDIES ON ACIDOSIS: THE IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF DEATH, AND REMARKS ON THE ACIDOSIS OF NEPHRITIS. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1917;XX(6):931–950. doi:10.1001/archinte.1917.00090060105010
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