ECG Tracing: Interpretation and Methods

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ECG TracingAn electrocardiogram (ECG) is a measurement of the electrical currents in the heart. This electrical activity is captured by placing electrodes on the skin. An “ECG tracing” is the results of this reading. A typical ECG trace is shown to the right. We’ve all seen these in movies when a patient’s heart rate and activity is being monitored.

ECG Tracing Interpretation

An electrocardiogram or ECG, records electrical activity in the heart. An ECG machine records these electrical signals across multiple heart beats and produces an ECG strip that is interpreted by a healthcare professional.

Different Types of ECG Tracing

There are various different types of ECGs. Each method is used to help diagnose a different cardiac (heart) or pulmonary (lung) condition. Some of the different types of ECG tracing include:

Cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET). Evaluates the cardiopulmonary system and detects cardiac or pulmonary diseases.

Exercise EKG (stress test). Also called a “treadmill test,” this test is given while a patient walks/runs on a treadmill or pedals a stationary bike. Used to monitor the heart during stress or exercise.

Holter monitor. Used to monitor the ECG tracing for 24 hours or more. Commonly used when other techniques don’t provide definitive results.

Resting 12-Lead EKG. The standard test used to measure the heart’s electrical activity by placing 12 electrical nodes on the chest, arms, and legs of the patient.

Signal-averaged electrocardiogram. A more detailed ECG tracing method that captures electrical signals over a period of approximately 20 minutes. Often used to capture abnormal heartbeats with may occur intermittently.

ECG Tracing Practice Guide

The third edition of 150 Practice ECGs: Interpretation and Review combines practice tracings with clinical cardiology, providing students with the practical knowledge necessary to read, interpret, and understand ECGs. This essential review book is organized into three sections: introductory text reviewing ECG diagnostic criteria, pathophysiology, and clinical correlation; 150 ECG tracings with a brief clinical history; and interpretation and teaching points for each of the 150 ECGs.