Finding ECG interpretation difficult?

[box]Shivali Patel reviews the seminal textbook ‘ECG Made Easy’ [/box]

Understanding the commonly seen black squiggly lines on red checked paper throughout hospitals can be a daunting task for anyone working within healthcare. ‘ECG made Easy’ is highly recommended for all junior doctors and medical students to read just before commencing their first placement. The easy to carry book equips readers with the essential knowledge needed to interpret ECGs. It is ideal for beginners as it is written concisely, covers commonly seen abnormal ECG patterns, while avoiding complex jargon. The book is subdivided into short, succinct chapters, demonstrating how to interpret ECGs using a logical step by step method. It explains the significance of the ECG patterns within a clinical context and even allows you to test yourself at the end using knowledge gained in earlier chapters.

The book begins by describing how an ECG is done, before explaining the normal electrophysiology of the heart and the various rate and conduction abnormalities. The author tries to demonstrate the benefits of utilising ECGs with the patient’s history and physical examination when diagnosing, by giving common signs and symptoms that may accompany particular ECG abnormalities. However, this serves only as an introductory guide and you will need to refer to other texts to understand the pathology and significance of particular management methods for different diseases. Also, the book does not use real ECGs, so you may occasionally find that ECGs on wards are not as easy to interpret as the book – so it is just a basic guide.

Nevertheless, the images are well laid out and easy to follow.  12-lead records are displayed throughout, as given in real clinical situations. The only drawback is the texts lack of colour and the red and black ink can become tedious, if you’ve been reading for too long.

Despite this, the guide is definitely worth reading if you have just started learning about ECGs or intend to revise and brush up on the basics- and it certainly does what the title says, ‘makes ECGs easy to understand.’

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