Basic surface electrocardiogram interpretation for the pharmacist

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American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy


Purpose: The electrocardiogram (ECG) is an invaluable tool for clinicians that provides important information about a patient's heart. As clinical pharmacists play an ever-increasing role in cardiovascular care, ECG interpretation is an important skill with which to become familiar. Summary: The ECG provides information on both electrical and biomechanical aspects of the heart. Electrical information such as the rhythm, rate, and axis of the electrical activity can all be provided by the ECG. Biomechanical information about the heart, such as the presence of ventricular hypertrophy and repolarization changes that may be associated with ischemia or myocardial injury, can also easily be gleaned from the ECG. Furthermore, the ECG plays a central role in both the diagnosis and treatment of common clinical conditions such as atrial fibrillation, ischemic heart disease, and QT interval prolongation Conclusion: The ECG is one of the most commonly performed diagnostic tests, and clinicians should become familiar with its basic interpretation.

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