An ECG, or electrocardiography, is an extremely important heart exam which helps detect abnormalities and illnesses in this extremely important part of the body. It is done by placing electrodes on the outside of the skin, which records the electronic impulses of the heart and transmits them to a device. This is considered a noninvasive procedure.
The test measures the rate and regularity of the heartbeats, the presence of any damage to the heart, the effects of any drugs or devices that are being used to regulate the heart, and finally the size and position of the chambers. They are extremely important for diagnostic purposes, meaning that it is vital for those in the medical field to be able to interpret the readings that are taken from these tests.
Fortunately, there are a number of online resources available for nurses to use to perfect their skills, or if they need to check their information throughout the course of their careers. Here are just three that those in the field of nursing may find useful:
Wirral University Teaching Hospital ECG Rhythm Recognition PDF
This PDF is designed to walk nurses and others in the medical profession through each step of understanding an ECG. It is a great overall review of the procedure and what the procedure is monitoring.
It begins by reviewing the parts of the heart that are monitored by the device. It then proceeds to discuss the important aspects of the test itself, such as how the ECG paper is labeled, what a normal sinus rhythm looks like, and how to calculate the heart rate from the printout.
It then walks the medical professionals through the important questions to ask when they are determining if the ECG is normal, as well as some common abnormalities that can be seen on the printout. These come with pictures of what the reading will look like, which can also serve as study resources or comparison resources.
The ECG Library
There are a large number of ailments that can cause an abnormal ECG reading, making it seem impossible to memorize them all. Fortunately, with resources like the ECG Library, it is unnecessary.
This library features a variety of conditions that can cause an abnormal reading and has images available showing what the ECG reading might look like for each. They are divided into categories of ischemic heart disease, hypertrophy patterns, atrioventricular (AV) block, bundle branch block, supra-ventricular rhythms, ventricular rhythms, pacemakers, Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, miscellaneous, and other.
These categories make it easier for medical professionals to find the disorder they are trying to find. The images offered for each condition are also detailed with information, such as the patient’s age, gender, and condition description, which can further aide medical professionals in making their comparisons.
The ECG and Rhythm Recognition site from the University of the West of England
This site is an interactive opportunity for nurses, and other medical professionals, to test their skills and knowledge about heart rhythms, while also reviewing heart anatomy and interpreting sample ECG readings. For example, the medical professional can perform test, online ECGs to practice placing electrodes depending on condition.
They can also use the available resources to guide them to possible diagnosis depending on the readings from the ECG. Most importantly, they also offer images and descriptions of the important features of the different cardiac rhythms and conditions that they would indicate. These images and descriptions are great for reviewing for exams and comparison purposes.
Reading an ECG and ECG rhythm recognition are two important aspects of being a nurse. Like any medical professional, the capacity to correctly interpret medical test results can make a big difference in the treatment and care for a patient.
There are such a wide range of conditions that can cause an abnormal reading, however, that many find learning, to interpret the results, to be difficult and confusing.
The various internet resources available can be helpful when studying or faced with a question while working. These three resources should help get a nurse started on the path to understanding these interpretations, through interactive images and clear descriptions.