Electric Inspiration: EKG Lessons

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Are you feeling electric? Well, you should, after all we are electric beings. One vital organ of our body that depends on electric conduction is our heart. Though it does not need to be charged thru an electric outlet like your Prius or your Tesla.

There is a simple test that can capture this electric signals of the heart. An electrocardiogram — called informally an ECG or EKG — measures the small electric waves that a human heart creates. (EKG is from German spelling electrokardiogramm.) This modality has been developed more than a century ago, but as heart disease remains a leading cause of death today, it continues to be one of the most commonly used tests in modern medicine. 

Reading EKG is one of the basic knowledge a medical student or an intern needs to learn by “heart” (sorry, pun intended). Though I believe there are some lessons to learn even for non-medical people from the EKG.

Below is a normal electricity complex of a single heart beat. The P wave is the electric discharge when the top chamber of the heart called atrium is beating, while the QRS complex is when the bottom chambers of the heart called ventricles are beating. The T and U wave happens when the heart is resting and recharging electricity. Those are the ups and downs tracings of the EKG.

The first lesson that we can get from this is that the ups and downs are part of life.

We should expect it. Sometimes we go through mountains and sometimes we go through troughs. We are not promised a calm ride. We should learn to adjust our sails. Life is not smooth. For when it is all flat, that is when we are dead.

Tracing below is a flat line signifying death.

The next lesson we can get from the EKG, is that we should keep some regularity in our life.

This is important. It is healthy for us to have a schedule. Like go to bed on time and wake up on time. Establish a healthy routine. Stick to your plans. Have some structure in your life. Sometimes being boring is good.

The EKG below is a regular sinus rhythm which is the normal and good rhythm.

Being irregularly irregular is not the best for us. We will not accomplish much if we are inconsistent in our plans. EKG below is an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation which is a high risk for stroke.

Being chaotic in our decisions is definitely not good. If we are out of control, this can lead to our demise. Tracing below is a dangerous chaotic rhythm called torsades de pointes. It is fatal unless patient is shock out of this by electric defibrillation.

The final lesson we can get from EKG tracing is that we should keep on going.

You may not be as talented as others, or you may not be as intelligent as others, or you may not be as privileged as others, but if you continue to work on your craft and keep on going, you’ll get to where you want to go.

It does no matter what circumstances life throws on you, just keep on beating. There will be times that we can get so excited that we want to speed up too much. But that breakneck pace is unsafe, and we need to slow down and make adjustments.

EKG tracing above is a super fast rate at 170-180 beats/minute. This is unsustainable, it needed to be slowed down.

Then there will be times in our life that can be so depressing that we want to give up and slow down to a crawl. But we should not stop. We must still pick up the broken pieces and go on.

Tracing above is a very slow rhythm that needed to be paced faster.

Yet the most important thing is that we keep that intrinsic electrical discharges. Keep that drive going. Keep on trucking, keep on beating and live.

There you have it folks, keep that electricity alive, until next time.


(*all images are not mine, taken from the web)


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