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Basic principles of electrocardiographic interpretation

Author
Ary L Goldberger, MD
Section Editor
David M Mirvis, MD
Deputy Editor
Gordon M Saperia, MD, FACC

INTRODUCTION

The electrocardiogram (ECG) is a graphical record of electric potentials generated by the working heart muscle fibers during each cardiac cycle. These low amplitude potentials are detected on the surface of the body using electrodes attached to the extremities and chest wall, and are then amplified by the electrocardiograph machine and displayed on special graph paper.

This topic will review the basic aspects of ECG interpretation, including:

The cardiac electrical cycle

ECG waveforms and intervals

ECG leads

              
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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 04, 2017.
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References
Top
  1. Goldberger AL, Goldberger ZE, Shvilkin A. Goldberger's Clinical Electrocardiography: A Simplified Approach, 9th ed, Elsevier, Philadelphia 2017.
  2. Mirvis, DM, Goldberger, AL. Electrocardiography. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 10th ed, Bonow, RO, Mann, DL, Zipes, DP, Libby, P (Eds), W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia 2014.
  3. Kligfield P, Gettes LS, Bailey JJ, et al. Recommendations for the standardization and interpretation of the electrocardiogram. Part I: The electrocardiogram and its technology. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Electrocardiography and Arrhythmias Committee, Council on Clinical Cardiology; the American College of Cardiology Foundation; and the Heart Rhythm Society. Heart Rhythm 2007; 4:394.