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April 1, 1974

Electrocardiographic Artifact Due to Malfunction of An Electric Watch

Author Affiliations

Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Boston

JAMA. 1974;228(1):26. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230260020009

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To the Editor.—  Artifacts of the electrocardiogram may appear as abnormalities of QRS complex or S-T segment configuration, as cardiac arrhythmias, or as apparent pacemaker malfunction. The latter two are of particular interest since misdiagnosis of rhythm or pacemaker function may result in the acute administration or use of inappropriate therapeutic agents.Artifacts that simulate rhythm disorders include myotonic muscle contractions due to hypothermia (223:439, 1973), benign familial tremor and the tremor of Parkinson disease (224: 1534, 1973). Apparent pacemaker malfunction may be caused by a broken wire in an extremity lead (220:1130, 1972).This communication describes another potential source of electrocardiographic artifact. Caused by an electric watch, it may appear as either a rhythm or a pacemaker artifact.

Example.—  A 73-year-old man was being studied because of vertigo. His initial ECG revealed 1- to 3-mm amplitude spikes that were independent of the basic cardiac rhythm and occurred at a rate