Over the last century the ECG has been used by clinicians to
make major clinical decisions with regard to electric pacing, the
use of thrombolytic drugs in acute myocardial infarction and the
timing of surgery. In conjunction with a chest X-ray and the
echocardiogram it is a fundamental part of the initial
investigation of a patient with suspected heart disease. These
electrical squiggles have always been difficult for students to
understand. In part the problem has been that the formatting of the
ECG has only become standard in the last two decades. Some
important books have not provided the full twelve-lead ECG. On
occasion the interpretation of the ECG has been related to complex
explanations of the shapes of the electrical signals. For the
practising physician much of the interpretation is a matter of
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