Insufficient Oxygen Supply as a Factor in Disease

Francis H. McCrudden
1916 Boston Medical and Surgical Journal  
The best evidences that the medical student does not receive adequate instruction in the practical aspects of this important subject are the primitive notions of physiology so frequently exhibited in the explanations of the mechanism of disease and the mode of action of different forms of treatment, given in our clinical journals. The abundance of such evidences sometimes suggests that the steady advance of physiology makes but little impression on practical medicine. No better example of the
more » ... er example of the failure of a fundamental physiological fact to impress itself on clinical medicine can be cited than the constant recrudescence of the myth of "insufficient oxygen supply," for over a century a favorite explanation of pathological symptoms. The belief in "insufficient oxygen supply" is based on an erroneous notion of the nature of metabolism, according to which the amount of oxidation is regulated by the respiration. The metabolic processes are sometimes compared with the blacksmith's fire, the lungs with the bellows; the intensity of the metabolism being attributed to the activity of the respiration.2 This notion is widespread. In the daily press
doi:10.1056/nejm191610051751403 fatcat:b2ovautudfd5vbs5dgaeuzktwu