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Mexico issued a stamp in 1997 to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Dr Ignacio Chavez. In addition to showing his portrait the stamp incorporates the ECG and the emblem of the National Institute of Cardiology of Mexico. This emblem is also the design feature of the 1972 stamp from Mexico issued to mark the World Health Month of the World Health Organisation, the theme for that year being “Your heart is your health”. This stamp was designed by J Enciso and two million were issued in sheets of 50. The stamp comes from a set of two—the second stamp featuring Willem Einthoven appeared in Heart1997;78:324.
It was the foresight and dedication of Dr Ignacio Chavez (1897–1979) that led to the National Institute of Cardiology of Mexico being founded in 1944 when it was the first such institute in the world. Dr Chavez had the inspiration of presenting the history of cardiology in the entrance hall of the building by means of a series of large mural paintings. These were created by the renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera and they are justly famous for their vivid illustrations of cardiology from the time of Galen onwards. The emblem of the institute is a Mexican plant calledYoloxochitl, the heart flower, which was used before the time of Columbus to treat dropsy. It has a weak digitalis-like action. The scientific name isTalauma mexicana, a member of the magnolia family. The emblem was designed by Diego Rivera and it is taken from an illustration in the Codex Badianus of 1552, which was the first book on therapeutics in the New World. It shows the plant with an Aztec stylised heart above it. We are most grateful to Dr Ignacio Chavez-Rivera, the director of the Institute, for his invaluable assistance.