Historic Views on Cachexia in Humans with Special Reference to Cardiac Cachexia

  • Wolfram Doehner


Extreme loss of body tissue in association with severe illness has been observed by physicians since ancient Greek times. The term ‘cachexia’ was the label for a ‘signum mali ominis’ in various, mostly fatal, diseases. Observing the chronicity of the course of a disease, cachexia was recognised as a severe complication indicating end-stage disease and poor quality of life. As modern treatment helps to prevent early death for an increasing number of chronic diseases, growing interest is focussed on chronic complications such as cachexia. Nevertheless, observation and clinical documentation of this condition go back as long as medical science itself. Pioneering studies on the reasons and mechanisms of cachexia were performed several decades ago. These studies provide fundamental insights and guidance towards a better understanding of cachexia.


Heart Failure Congestive Heart Failure Chronic Heart Failure Heart Failure Patient Basal Metabolic Rate 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfram Doehner
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Cachexia Research, Department of CardiologyCharité Medical School, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Humboldt UniversityBerlinGermany

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