Teachable Moments in ECG: The Physiology Behind the Pattern


The electrocardiographic analysis of heart blocks provides great opportunities for the discussion of mechanisms of electrical cardiac conduction, serving as “teachable moments” in medicine. Recognition of heart blocks can sometimes be a challenge as they can present in many forms, different severities and levels of blocks that present as varied patterns on electrocardiographic tracing. The ultimate key to correct diagnosis rests on adequate understanding of normal electrophysiology of the electrical system of the heart. While it is vital to recognize the pattern, we should always know and understand the physiology behind the pattern. This article presents a detailed analysis of a case of heart block which can easily be misinterpreted on first look. The case is featured not for its rarity but for the interesting concepts in cardiac electrophysiology that are highlighted. Navigation of the different elements of tracing can be an adventure and a great learning experience enjoyed by both students and experts.


Keywords: Heart block, ECG, electrocardiography

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