Leonardo da Vinci's studies of the heart

Mohammadali Mohajel Shoja, Paul S. Agutter, Marios Loukas, Brion Benninger, Ghaffar Shokouhi, Husain Namdar, Kamyar Ghabili, Majid Khalili, R. Shane Tubbs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Leonardo da Vinci's detailed drawings are justly celebrated; however, less well known are his accounts of the structures and functions of the organs. In this paper, we focus on his illustrations of the heart, his conjectures about heart and blood vessel function, his experiments on model systems to test those conjectures, and his unprecedented conclusions about the way in which the cardiovascular system operates. In particular, da Vinci seems to have been the first to recognize that the heart is a muscle and that systole is the active phase of the pump. He also seems to have understood the functions of the auricles and pulmonary veins, identified the relationship between the cardiac cycle and the pulse, and explained the hemodynamic mechanism of valve opening and closure. He also described anatomical variations and changes in structure and function that occurred with age. We outline da Vinci's varied career and suggest ways in which his personality, experience, skills and intellectual heritage contributed to these advances in understanding. We also consider his influence on later studies in anatomy and physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1126-1133
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 20 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy
  • Circulation
  • Heart
  • History
  • Vessel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Leonardo da Vinci's studies of the heart'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this