The normal electrocardiogram (see Figure 11-1) is composed of a P wave, a QRS complex, and a T wave. The QRS complex is often, but not always, three separate waves: the Q wave, the R wave, and the S wave.
The P wave is caused by electrical potentials generated when the atria depolarize before atrial contraction begins. The QRS complex is caused by potentials generated when the ventricles depolarize before contraction, that is, as the depolarization wave spreads through the ventricles. Therefore, both the P wave and the components of the QRS complex are depolarization waves.
The T wave is caused by potentials generated as the ventricles recover from the state of depolarization. This process normally occurs in ventricular muscle 0.25 to 0.35 second after depolarization, and the T wave is known as a repolarization wave.
Thus, the electrocardiogram is composed of both depolarization and repo-larization waves. The principles of depolarization and repolarization are discussed in Chapter 5. The distinction between depolarization waves and repo-larization waves is so important in electrocardiography that further clarification is needed.
Was this article helpful?
Have you ever been envious of people who seem to have no end of clever ideas, who are able to think quickly in any situation, or who seem to have flawless memories? Could it be that they're just born smarter or quicker than the rest of us? Or are there some secrets that they might know that we don't?