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Med Clin North Am. 2019 Sep;103(5):775-784. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2019.04.003. Epub 2019 Jul 1.

The Electrocardiogram: Still a Useful Tool in the Primary Care Office.

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Cardiovascular Disease, Summa Health System, 95 Arch Street, Suite 300, Akron, OH 44304, USA.
Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship, Summa Health Heart and Vascular Institute, Summa Health System, 95 Arch Street, Suite 350, Akron, OH 44304, USA. Electronic address:


A 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) is the most commonly ordered cardiac test. Although data are not robust, guidelines recommend against performing an ECG in patients who are asymptomatic, even if they have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the long term. Conversely, patients with cardiac symptoms, including chest pain, dyspnea, palpitation, and syncope, should have an ECG performed in the office. Computerized algorithms exist ubiquitously to guide interpretation, but they can be the source of erroneous information. A stepwise approach is given to guide the primary care physician's approach to the systematic interpretation of ECG tracings.


Chest pain evaluation; Chronic heart disease; Computerized ECG algorithms; Electrocardiogram indications; Electrocardiogram interpretation; Preoperative evaluation

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