- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Karel Frederik Wenckebach

Born 1864
Died 1940

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Dutch-born Austrian internist, born March 24, 1864, Den Haag; died November 11, 1940, Vienna.

Biography of Karel Frederik Wenckebach

Karel Frederik Wenckebach attended the University of Utrecht and received his doctorate in 1888. He spent his assistant period at the institutes of zoology, and for pathological and normal anatomy in Utrecht. In 1901 he was appointed professor of internal medicine at Groningen, held the same tenure at Strassburg 1911-1914, and then followed a call to Vienna, where he retired from his chair in 1929.

Wenckeback’s early work concerned embryology, later he concentrated his efforts in the study of the pathology and clinics of heart and circulatory diseases.

Apart from his well known phenomenon, he wrote one of the first descriptions of the beneficial effects of the quinine alkaloids on arrhythmias and that its successful use was mainly in patients with auricular fibrillation or recent onset (1903-1904). He wrote an important monograph on beriberi in 1934.

    "I owe my reputation to the fact that I use digitalis in doses the text books say are dangerous and in cases that the text book say are unsuitable."
    Quoted in Lancet, 1937, 2: 633.

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