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How do you read EKG strips?

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Quick Answer

A normal electrocardiogram result shows a regular rhythm of 60 to 100 wave sets per minute, claims WebMD. An EKG strip displays wave sets for each heartbeat where within each heartbeat the spikes and dips are labeled P through T, as reported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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Full Answer

The first spike for a heartbeat is labeled P, as reported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. This indicates the atria contracting as the electrical signal passes from the right to the left. A flat line connects the P spike to the Q dip as the electrical signal travels through the atrioventricular node. The QRS wave occurs as the electrical signal passes to the ventricles, which contract and pump blood to the entire body. The T wave indicates the ventricles are returning to a resting state that allows blood to refill the heart.

Exercising prior to taking an EKG test can produce results that are unhelpful, as reported by WebMD. Moving, talking, breathing deeply or breathing rapidly during an EKG can also alter the results. EKG abnormal results include the heart beating too fast, too slow and in an abnormal rhythm. Also an abnormal result is if the line tracing does not appear normal.

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