The History of the Electrocardiogram

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The History of the Electrocardiogram The discoveries by Galvani and Volta of electricity and its effects fascinated the intellectual world, but it was not until 1856 that Köllicker and Müller discovered that the heart muscle could produce electric activity. Muirhead in London recorded the first electrocardiogram (ECG) in man in 1869 or 1870 with a siphon instrument and Waller in 1887 with a capillary electrometer. In 1903 Willem Einthoven, MD, PhD invented the electrocardiograph a machine that measures the minute electrical currents generated by the heart. The term electrocardiogram was introduced by Willem Einthoven in 1893 at a meeting of the Dutch Medical Society. Before 1903 no one understood what atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) was, so Dutch physician Willem Einthoven’s article “La Télécardiogramme” was startling in its revelation that different forms of heart disease, including fibrillation, became apparent in a readout that could be used diagnostically. Initially, it was a cumbersome and costly device, taking five technicians to operate. During the procedure, patients had to place both hands and both feet in buckets of water. But as a result of this advance cardiologists began, for the first time, to fully understand the electrical processes involved in generating the heartbeat. With this knowledge, they were able to more precisely diagnosis certain cardiovascular problems. The electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart in exquisite detail. Interpretation of these details allows diagnosis of a wide range of heart conditions. These conditions can vary from minor to life threatening. An ECG is a very useful tool for determining whether a person has heart disease. Your doctor may order this test if you have chest pain or palpitations. An ECG may be included as part of a

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