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Various Ekg Readings

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Lab essay # 5

There are several different heart problems that show up as an abnormal EKG reading. For example, a heart block can occur when there is a delay in the signals coming from the SA node, AV node, or the Purkinje fibers. However, clinically the term heart block is used to refer to an AV block. This delays or completely stops communication between the atria and the ventricles. AV block is shown on the EKG as a delayed or prolonged PR interval. The P wave represents the activity in the atria, and the QRS complex represents ventricular activity. This is why the PR interval shows the signal delay from the AV node. There are three degrees of severity, and if the delay is greater than .2 seconds it is classified as first degree. Second degree is classified by several regularly spaced P waves before each QRS complex. Third degree can be shown by P waves that have no spacing relationship to the QRS complex. Another type of blockage is bundle branch block. This is caused by a blockage in the bundle of His, creating a delay in the electrical signals traveling down the bundle branches to reach the ventricles. This results in a slowed heart beat, or brachycardia. On an EKG reading this is shown as a prolonged QRS complex. A normal QRS is about .8-.12 seconds, and anything longer is considered bundle branch block. Another type of abnormal EKG reading is atrial fibrillation, when the atria contracts very quickly. On the EKG this is shown by no clear P waves, only many small fibrillating waves, and no PR interval to measure. This results in a rapid and irregular heartbeat. On the other hand, ventricular fibrillation is much more serious and can cause sudden death if not treated by electrical defibrillation. The heart doesn't beat at all, but instead quivers, so cardiac output and blood pressure drops significantly. On the EKG reading this is shown by no clear QRS complex or P waves.


Electrocardiograms: A systematic method of reading them. Armstrong, Michael L. Yearbook medical Publishers, Inc 1978

Electrocardiography in Practice. Graybiel and White. WB Sauders company 1941



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