July 13, 1964


JAMA. 1964;189(2):148-149. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070020076018

Despite the millions of electrocardiographic tracings (ECG's) taken in the past half century, certain aspects of their interpretation continue to evade and confuse the physician. Some patients who demonstrate normal ECG's may die from an acute cardiac attack within hours or even minutes. Other patients, who present clinical and laboratory evidence of myocardial infarction, may show no significant ECG changes for days. Still others, with the most grotesque ECG patterns, live for years without symptoms or signs, often defying their physicians' admonitions with impunity. In still another important group, ECG records show changes in rhythm and configuration varying from normal to atrial fibrillation and perhaps back to normal in successive tracings, or even during a single tracing. Eccentricities of the ECG have occasionally led to errors in diagnosis and, even more serious from the patient's viewpoint, in prognosis. Such findings have forced men into retirement, only to have them live

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