The electrocardiogram (ECG) displays important information about the heart, including the occurrence of a heart attack or lack of oxygen, whether conduction of the heartbeat is disturbed, or its rate or rhythm altered. It is useful as a rapid indicator of the diagnosis and it is easy, painless, and inexpensive to record. The record made in healthy people at rest, or undergoing an exercise test, helps predict risk of future heart problems. It is also used to monitor severely ill patients.
The electrocardiograph was invented by Wilhelm Einthoven in Leiden, the Netherlands, around 1900. Einthoven measured the small differences in electrical potential between the arms and legs by amplifying the tiny current passing through the body with each heartbeat. In the twenty-first century, data about heart function are recorded from the chest wall and the limbs with the electrocardiograph and displayed on paper or TV screens as the