oa South African Medical Journal - Pitfalls in the Interpretation of the Electrocardiogram

Volume 21, Issue 22
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Some of the common sources of error in the interpretation of the electrocardiogram are discussed. The error of adhering to too rigid criteria for normality in the electrocardiogram is stressed. Awareness of the ""normal"" inverted T wave is important. The influence of individual constitution, posture, chest deformity, autonomic nervous system imbalance, anxiety neurosis, hyperventilation and other condition entirely unconnected with the heart should be taken into account when interpreting abnormal electrocardiograms in individuals showing no clinical evidence of heart disease. Alteration of the ST segment and T wave, even inversion of T wave, occur in a large number of conditions remote from the heart. These nonspecific cardiographic changes should not be mistaken for evidence of coronary disease.

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