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The Shape of the Heart

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 20 January 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:180
  1. Arpan K Banerjee, consultant radiologist
  1. Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull NHS Trust

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    Pierre Vinken

    Elsevier, £12.82, pp 206

    ISBN 0 444 82987 3

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    Have you ever wondered why the iconographic representation of the heart differs from its true anatomical shape? This question has intrigued Dr Pierre Vinken, a former neurosurgeon turned publisher, who explores this intellectual conundrum in this historical monograph.

    In 1962 the art historian Erwin Panofsky was similarly perplexed. He noted that the valentine heart shape has been used since prehistoric times and was seen in Palaeolithic cave paintings in Spain. …

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