ecg_ch1 - MIT OpenCourseWare http:/ocw.mit.edu HST.582J /...

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MIT OpenCourseWare http://ocw.mit.edu HST.582J / 6.555J / 16.456J Biomedical Signal and Image Processing Spring 2007 For information about citing these materials or our Terms of Use, visit: http://ocw.mit.edu/terms .
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Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology HST.582J: Biomedical Signal and Image Processing, Spring 2007 Course Directors: Dr. Julie Greenberg CHAPTER 1 The Physiological Basis of the Electrocardiogram Andrew T. Reisner, Gari D. Clifford, and Roger G. Mark c Courtesy of Artech House. Used with permission. ± Artech House, 2006. All rights reserved. Before attempting any signal processing of the electrocardiogram it is important to first understand the physiological basis of the ECG, to review measurement conventions of the standard ECG, and to review how a clinician uses the ECG for patient care. The material and figures in this chapter are taken from [1, 2], to which the reader is referred for a more detailed overview of this subject. Further information can also be found in the reading list given at the end of this chapter. The heart is comprised of muscle ( myocardium ) that is rhythmically driven to contract and hence drive the circulation of blood throughout the body. Before every normal heartbeat, or systole , 1 a wave of electrical current passes through the entire heart, which triggers myocardial contraction. The pattern of electrical propagation is not random, but spreads over the structure of the heart in a coordinated pattern which leads to an effective, coordinated systole. This results in a measurable change in potential difference on the body surface of the subject. The resultant amplified (and filtered) signal is known as an electrocardiogram (ECG, or sometimes EKG). A broad number of factors affect the ECG, including abnormalities of cardiac con­ ducting fibers, metabolic abnormalities (including a lack of oxygen, or ischemia ) of the myocardium, and macroscopic abnormalities of the normal geometry of the heart. ECG analysis is a routine part of any complete medical evaluation, due to the heart’s essential role in human health and disease, and the relative ease of recording and analyzing the ECG in a noninvasive manner. Understanding the basis of a normal ECG requires appreciation of four phe­ nomena: the electrophysiology of a single cell, how the wave of electrical current propagates through myocardium, the physiology of the specific structures of the heart through which the electrical wave travels, and last how that leads to a mea­ surable signal on the surface of the body, producing the normal ECG. 1.1 Cellular Processes That Underlie the ECG Each mechanical heartbeat is triggered by an action potential which originates from a rhythmic pacemaker within the heart and is conducted rapidly throughout the or­ gan to produce a coordinated contraction. As with other electrically active tissues 1 . Diastole, the opposite of systole, is defined to be the period of relaxation and expansion of the heart
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ecg_ch1 - MIT OpenCourseWare http:/ocw.mit.edu HST.582J /...

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