Anatomy word of the month: coronary

August 1, 2011 —

The coronary arteries encircle the heart “like a crown” which is its literal meaning in Latin.  The coronaries supply blood to the heart muscle itself.  Blockage of a branch of a coronary artery causes a “heart attack” in layman’s language.  The same root meaning is found in coronation and coroner.  The latter word originally referred to an official appointed by the crown, the royal government, to investigate deaths of unknown or suspicious circumstances.  Modern coroners are typically physicians called medical examiners.  As they say in the TV police dramas upon discovery of a dead body, “Better call the  M.E. on this one”.


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