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Darwin's Illness$
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Ralph Colp Jr.

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032313

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032313.001.0001

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The Final Illnes

The Final Illnes

(p.116) 14 The Final Illnes
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

In December 1881, when Charles Darwin and Emma were staying at the London home of Etty and her husband, he experienced giddiness and an irregular pulse. At first he did not see Dr. Andrew Clark, and Emma visited the doctor and reported her husband's symptoms. Dr. Clark then saw Darwin and reassured him about his cardiac condition. He returned to Down from London late in December, and for about two months he was free of heart symptoms. On 3 March the following year, upon coming to Down for a family visit, Etty was told by her mother that her father had been having some pain in the heart nearly every afternoon after walking. His diagnosis of “angina pectoris” then meant coronary thrombosis and organic disease of the heart. At the time of his death, Darwin was seventy-three years and two months old. The physicians who treated him diagnosed his final illness as “anginal attacks”, with “heart-failure” and signs that his “heart and greater blood vessels were degenerating”.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, Emma, Dr. Andrew Clark, angina pectoris, heart-failure, blood vessels, coronary thrombosis

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