Wednesday, February 6, 2013

EKG Primer for Marketers Part I

EKGs are mysterious and cool. I think that is why they are attractive to marketers. Because the general public does not know much about them, it is easy to scrawl out any random oscillation and begin selling product. This is the very definition of laziness.

Look. See? I told you so.

And because this bothers me so, I am pleased to present this primer series as a service to the public. I will also be offering consultation services free of charge. If, after reading through this multi-part primer, you are still unsure if the EKG on your brochure, logo, or whatever, is real looking, you can email a picture of it to me at drew [dot] rinella [at] gmail [dot] com and I will gladly let you know if I would make fun of it on this blog.

What is an EKG?

EKG and ECG are the same, except EKG reflects the traditional german spelling of elektrokardiogramm, and ECG is the more modern electrocardiogram. In its simplest terms, an EKG is just a graphical representation of the heart's electrical activity. Interpretation of the EKG depends on the shape and various measurements of the waveforms produced. The EKG machine has wires which attach to sticky patches, that are then placed on the patient's skin in various spots depending on what type of EKG the healthcare provider wishes to obtain. It is interesting to note that the wires are not placed right next to the heart in many cases, and that the heart's electrical activity can be accurately read even with the wires placed on the hands and feet.

EKG technology is really much more amazing and wonderful than I described above, but my goal here is simply to give you a fairly decent foundation to work from for advertising purposes.

The Sinus Rhythm

Nurse Anna demonstrates proper sinus
morphology with this Electro Kandy-o-Gram at
(Reposted with permission)

The healthiest and most normal of the EKG rhythms is the sinus rhythm. The term sinus comes not from the sinuses in your skull, but from the sinoatrial node near the top of the heart, which is the origin of the electrical signal responsible for this normal beat. The sinus rhythm is the most commonly attempted and failed heart rhythm seen in advertising today.

A Normal, Sinus Beat
From Wikimedia Commons

The whole picture above represents one beat of the heart, and is one sinus beat. The normal sinus beat must look similar to the picture above in order to be believable. Each aspect of this beat is labeled with a letter of P through T, and each wave signifies a different, specific operation of the heart as it beats. Going into further detail about this requires a deeper knowledge of the anatomy and operation of the four-chambered human heart than is necessary for the purposes of this primer.

Some observations you may make about the above sinus beat:

 - There is a flat baseline from which the various different waves rise and fall
 - The first wave is the P wave, which is typically rounded in shape, and smaller than the rest of the waves in the sinus beat
 - There is a small pause after the P wave
 - Waves Q, R and S are all lumped together in something called the QRS complex, and the QRS complex is fairly narrow.
 - There is another small pause after the QRS complex
 - And finally, the T wave is a rounded wave in shape, and is usually larger than the P wave.

             This one is close, but not quite there                    

                                                                                       What can be said about this EKG that hasn't
                                                                                         already been said about three dollar bills?

When 60-100 sinus beats are strung together over the course of one minute, we call that a normal sinus rhythm. If there are more or fewer beats per minute, it may indicate a patient who is not quite healthy, and we begin naming the rhythm a bit differently.

Learn more about proper heart rhythms with the best book ever written on the subject

1 comment:

  1. Haha! I learned this when a paramedic came to our high school. I often point out things like this to my fiance. Well.... that person is having a heart attack.... blah blah... He often is surprised when I don't say anything!


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