The Electrocardiogram: Still a Useful Tool in the Primary Care Office

John Hornick, Otto Costantini
Medical Clinics of North America 2019, 103 (5): 775-784
A 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) is the most commonly ordered cardiac test. Although data are not robust, guidelines recommend against performing an ECG in patients who are asymptomatic, even if they have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the long term. Conversely, patients with cardiac symptoms, including chest pain, dyspnea, palpitation, and syncope, should have an ECG performed in the office. Computerized algorithms exist ubiquitously to guide interpretation, but they can be the source of erroneous information. A stepwise approach is given to guide the primary care physician's approach to the systematic interpretation of ECG tracings.

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