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What are some basic tips for interpreting an EKG?

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An EKG is interpreted by systematically analyzing the waves, intervals and segments of the heart’s electrical activity and determining if there are any abnormalities in the tracing, according to Queen’s University School of Medicine. For a basic interpretation, analyze the rate, rhythm, P waves, PR interval, QRS complexes and ST segments step by step.

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The heart rate can be approximated by counting the squares on the ECG paper between each QRS complex, states the South Sudan Medical Journal. Evaluate the R-R intervals and whether a P wave is present before every QRS complex to determine whether the rhythm is regular or irregular. Further analysis of the presence, absence or unusual appearance of P waves interprets if the heart rhythm is normal, ventricular or junctional. The duration of the waveform’s intervals may show abnormalities, such as an atrioventricular block, while the width of the QRS complex can determine whether a bundle branch block is present. Analyzing the appearance of the ST segments can lead to conclusions about acute myocardial ischemia, injury or infarction. Queen’s University recommends a systematic, stepwise approach to EKG interpretation to ensure that rhythm analysis is accomplished efficiently and effectively and that significant details of the tracing are identified accurately.

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