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Determining Artifact in ECGs

Donald K. Shaw, PT, PhD, D.Min., FAACVPR

September 1, 2014

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Question

How can you determine artifact versus an abnormal rhythm on an ECG?

Answer

That is a very good question.  For the most part, artifact is a manifestation that has everything jumbled together in a hashy presentation.  If it is ventricular fibrillation, which is our real concern, we want to differentiate between artifact and perhaps a pattern of ventricular fibrillation.  You need to look at the closeness of the proximity of the hash.  The best way to tell is if it looks hashy in the sense that it is all over the place and it looks more like an EMG pattern, (where everything is crammed together as it would be in screen fill), then you probably have artifact.  However, if the pattern is more rhythmic, in the sense not that one would happen in the same time zone as another, but the morphology is better formed, then you are probably talking tachycardia or fibrillation. 


donald k shaw

Donald K. Shaw, PT, PhD, D.Min., FAACVPR

Donald K. Shaw, PT, PhD, D.Min.,  FAACVPR is a Professor in the Physical Therapy Department at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Shaw is a Fellow and former national board member of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. He has lectured and presented research in Argentina, Scotland, Ireland, the Peoples Republic of China, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and throughout the United States. His published work appears widely in medical journals including the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Respiratory Care, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal, Heart and Lung, Journal of Allied Health, and the American Journal of Cardiology. Dr. Shaw has received several university awards for both teaching and scholarship.

 


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