APGAR: how a woman's surname became a medical term

APGAR: how a woman's surname became a medical term

24.05.2022 0 By admin

Every mother knows about the APGAR scale, but not everyone knows that this rating system owes its name to the American researcher and physician Virginia Apgar , who was born on June 7, 1909 in Westfield (New Jersey).

A family tragedy (the death of her brother at a young age) led to the fact that Virginia decided to connect her life with medicine in order to help people live longer. The girl won a competition for a scholarship to study at the medical school at the Columbia College of Internal Medicine and Surgery in New York.

After receiving her diploma, Virginia began working at the Department of Surgery under the guidance of the famous US surgeon Alan Wypple. And she became the first woman to receive a diploma from the American Society of Anesthetists (ASA).

Apgar score

It was Virginia Apgar who first drew attention to the fact that the usual methods of anesthesia are completely unsuitable for childbirth: they increase the risk of death of the newborn. Therefore, in 1952, the doctor compiled a five-point scale , according to which you can assess the condition of the newborn in the first minutes of his life:

  • A (appearance) – skin color;
  • P (pulse) – pulse;
  • G (grimace) – grimaces;
  • A (activity) – activity;
  • Р (respiration) – respiratory (breathing) movements.

It took a year for the medical community to accept this innovation. And already in 1953, the Virginia Apgar scale became widespread. Doctors have learned to quickly identify infants in need of intensive care.

For outstanding discoveries in medicine in 1973, she was awarded a gold medal. And doctors still use the APGAR scale and quickly save the lives of newborn babies.

What do APGAR scores mean?

Photo: library-archives.cumc.columbia.edu, Depositphotos, Instagram