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An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a medical test that records the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time. This test is commonly used to diagnose and evaluate various heart conditions, including arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), heart attacks, and other cardiac abnormalities.
During an ECG, electrodes are attached to specific points on the skin of the chest, arms, and legs. These electrodes detect the electrical signals generated by the heart as it beats. The signals are then amplified and displayed as a series of waves on a graph known as an electrocardiogram.
The ECG waveform consists of several distinctive waves and intervals:
1. **P Wave**: Represents the electrical activity associated with the atrial contraction, or the contraction of the heart’s upper chambers (atria).
2. **QRS Complex**: Reflects the electrical activity during the ventricular contraction, or the contraction of the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles). It includes multiple waves, with the Q wave, R wave, and S wave.
3. **T Wave**: Represents the repolarization (recovery) of the ventricles after contraction.
By analyzing the shape, duration, and timing of these waves and intervals, healthcare professionals can diagnose conditions such as irregular heart rhythms, heart muscle damage, electrolyte imbalances, and more.
ECGs are non-invasive and provide valuable insights into the heart’s health and function. They are routinely used in medical settings, including emergency departments, cardiology clinics, and hospitals, to aid in diagnosing and monitoring heart-related issues.
Making Sense of the ECG
Rapid Interpretation of EKGs
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