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History of Medicine |

The Remarkable Dr. Abildgaard and Countershock: The Bicentennial of His Electrical Experiments on Animals

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Grant support: in part by U.S. Public Health Service Grant HL 01661 from the National Heart and Lung Institute of the National Institutes of Health, and in part by grants from the American Heart Association.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Thomas E. Driscol, M.D., Department of Medicine, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH 44106.

Cleveland, Ohio

Ann Intern Med. 1975;83(6):878-882. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-83-6-878
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In 1775 Peter Christian Abildgaard, a Danish veterinarian and physician, conducted experiments on electrical countershock on animals. He succeeded in first rendering fowl lifeless by an electric shock and then reviving them by a countershock applied to the chest. Ventricular fibrillation and defibrillation were not known and could not be documented at that early date, but his report suggests he accomplished these changes long before other physiologists described them. Dr. Abildgaard's long and varied career included many significant contributions to veterinary and human medicine, biology, zoology, botany, physics, chemistry, and mineralogy. He also took an interest and was active in politics, economics, and community affairs. This short biography is intended as a fitting, though belated, tribute to his pioneer work on effects of electric shock.





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