CYANOSIS, BLUE SKIN DISEASE.
The heart is subject to various kinds of malformation, that is to say, in plain language, departure from the natural construction. The error of this kind which concerns us most is that which gives rise, after birth, to the disease cyanosis, so called because the body of the sufferer is blue in tint. The error in the mechanism of the heart in this disease is, that an opening between the right and left auricles of the heart, called the foramen ovale, and which previous to birth allowed the blood in the right auricle to flow direct into the left auricle without passing first through the lungs, but which ought to close after birth by a firm membrane so as to prevent that direct exit and insure that the blood is made to pass over the lungs, does not close. The result of the failure of clos ure is that after birth venous blood passes from the right to the left side of the heart without undergoing due change from respi ration, i.e., without being duly arterialized. The person who has cyanosis is of dark bluish color; is cold over the body; is of feeble constitution; and, rarely lives beyond five years, although I have known an instance of the kind in which, under extreme care, life was extended to twenty-two years. The intellect, in this form of disease, if not brilliant, may be clear and sound. Death is usually caused by congestion of the lungs, or by develop ment of tuberculous or other disease of the breathing organs.
In one instance recorded, by the late Dr. Mayne of Dublin, the deficiency of the heart above named, deficiency of closure of the foramen ovale, led to an opposite condition, namely, to the passage of a portion of arterialized blood from the left auricle back into the right auricle, and into the venous side of the circu lation; so that the person affected, a woman, who lived to be over twenty years old, was always being supplied with ever oxygenated blood. She was the subject of profuse perspirations, attended with great lassitude and feebleness of body, like a feeble person in a tropical climate. She died suddenly after some slight exertion.