Revise ECGs online

Dr Neil Paul marvels at the range of online educational resources available for studying ECGs.

Dutch-run site ecgpedia.org has excellent graphics and animations
Dutch-run site ecgpedia.org has excellent graphics and animations

I have always considered myself quite good at reading ECGs, having worked as a cardiology registrar in a former life. However, while researching some questions for a MCQ application I am writing for the iPhone, I realised I had forgotten quite a lot.

With revalidation on the horizon, I thought this would be a good thing to revise this year - but instead of pulling out my old textbooks, I decided to see what was online and was amazed at the quality of what is available.

Range of sites
Typing 'ECG' or 'ECG quiz' into the search engine brings up a range of sites. They vary from a collection of interesting ECGs to complete online courses. Most sites assume you know nothing and start with the basics. There are several US sites available too, although you have to type in 'EKG' to find them.

One of my favourite sites is www.ecgpedia.org, a Wikipedia-style site run by the Dutch non-profit making CardioNetworks foundation. The site aims to be a complete course and is free to use. There is a one-page pocket guide to reading ECGs that you can download and print off and it contains decent artwork.

As well as having lots of real ECGs, the artwork shows most abnormalities in simplified form, which means it is far easier to grasp what it should look like than it is when viewing a wiggly trace, poorly scanned.

It has also introduced animations to its site, and an axis calculator is a great addition - as you move the dial around, it shows how the various leads change and this really helps you understand what is going on.

Closer to home is www.ecglibrary.com, a website run by Dr Dean Jenkins. It is simpler in design but does have a list of most common and some uncommon abnormal ECGs with good examples to view.

Both ecglibrary and ecgpedia are happy for people to download or otherwise use their pictures and contents for non-commercial or educational uses, including using them in your own presentations as long as you credit the source. There are exceptions, however, so check for specific uses.

Medical schools
There are many other websites and some medical schools have excellent sections on ECGs, including Liverpool University, www.liv.ac.uk/csrc/e-learning/ecg/index.htm, which has some great artwork as well.

If you are not good at reading information on screens or find websites hard to navigate, how about watching a video on how to read an ECG?

Amazingly several people have gone to the trouble of recording lectures and these are freely viewable on YouTube. Try typing in ECG or ECG course.

Some are just two-minute clips of abnormal ECGs but some are full lectures. The quality of image and sound varies but they are all watchable and some of them are very informative.

Other useful websites

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