This book originally arose from our commitment to teach senior medical students how to interpret electrocardiograms in two weeks, or ten working days. The School of Medicine, in its wisdom, had chosen that interval for us, and we were forced to adapt to its mandate. We had 10 to 15 students in our class every four weeks for the entire academic year. We quickly realized that we needed to establish specific topics for each day so that, regardless of which faculty members were available, there was a consistent method used. We also decided on a set of sample ECGs to use each day.
I found myself repeatedly drawing the same illustrations, charts, and diagrams, so I eventually put together the rudiments of this text into a handout. This effort was well received by medical students, residents from Internal Medicine, Family Practice, and Preventive Medicine, and nurses and technicians. I was subsequently encouraged to publish this material, and the editors at McGraw-Hill were gracious enough to accommodate me.
Since publication of the first edition, several things have become obvious, particularly that I needed to provide many more sample ECGs for practice, both at the end of the chapters and a random sample at the end of the text. Therefore, there are now 20 ECGs at the ends of Chapters 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 100 at the end, bringing the total practice tracings to 280, far more than any other book. I needed to update several figures and add many more to accommodate advances in electrocardiography and make some concepts easier to understand. It was obvious that I needed to divide the contents of Day 5 into two chapters, therefore necessitating compression of Days 2 and 3 into one chapter. I also decided to use full 12 lead ECGs instead of rhythm strips to illustrate the majority of concepts, since it would be in this format that practitioners would encounter these tracings. Finally, I decided to use a system I call "call-outs" on the sample ECGs, in which key portions of the tracing are identified by circles and are then enlarged and commented on in the top margin.
There have also been major advances in computer imaging, processing, and storage since the first text. In this edition, all of the illustrations were drawn on an Apple Macintosh G5 computer using Adobe PhotoShop CS2 and a Wacom graphics tablet. The ECGs were scanned at 600 dpi for clarity even when magnified in the call-outs.
It is my hope that my readers will enjoy this text as much as I did in preparing it and in teaching the concepts.