It would be amiss to leave the story of this era of the 1600s to 1800s without recounting some famous bleedings that took place during that time. Perhaps the most remembered was that of President George Washington. After riding on horseback all day in inclement weather, President Washington developed a fever and respiratory distress. Treatment included emetics, laxatives, and bloodletting. In total, he had 2365 mL of blood taken over 12 hours. He died the next night of what has been diagnosed retrospectively as epiglottis and shock. (A detailed account of Washington’s treatment may be read in The Permanente Journal, Vol. 8 No. 2, page 76 in 2004). When King Charles of England (1630-1685) suffered a seizure he was treated with a vigorous regiment of emetics, enemas, purgatives, and bloodletting. In total, he had approximately 24 ounces of blood taken before he died. His niece, Queen Anne, also died of the same intense treatment as her uncle after a stroke, and it has been speculated that the death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was also hastened by excessive bloodletting.
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