Best EKG Book
Recently, we discussed the process from start to finish for the basic review of interpreting an EKG. As you may know from studying medicine, learning the EKG can be one of the hardest things that students and clinicians must master. Today, we will cover some of the best EKG books that are available for learning.
We will discuss the famous Rapid Interpretation of EKGs, take a look at what users are saying about “best EKG book, Reddit”, and look at other 12 lead ECG books and online resources available.
It is still perhaps one of the most vivid memories I have from PA school. I was sitting in my lecture seat, or maybe standing to prevent a DVT, when one of our professors was reviewing axis and its relation to the EKG. Whether it was being over-caffeinated, clinically sleep deprived, or something else entirely, I had absolutely no idea what was being presented to me. Even with more caffeine in me and a fresher look at our lecture, it just never clicked. It was nothing to do with the instruction, rather it was my process. It just wouldn’t click.
I was horrible at EKGs….
I’m a very visual learner, but the lecture form for an EKG just did not seem to work for me. So, much like I have done for my whole life, starting with Punnett squares in 9th grade biology, I exposed myself to as much as possible. Any EKG on any rotation, I was all over it. Any case study, online picture, or resource I could find, I was on it. In addition, with the use of multiple books available, I went from almost immediately into atrial fibrillation when an EKG was put in front of me, to progressively more comfortable.
Dale Dubin’s Rapid Interpretation of EKGs
With exams, OSCEs, and ultimately the PANCE staring me down, I started to get much more serious about EKGs during my clinical year of PA school. Each time an EKG was ordered in the hospital, ER, or family practice office, I did my best to get my hands on it. In addition, I started to look at the other resources that were available and stumbled upon Rapid Interpretation of EKGs by Dale Dubin.
What makes this book my favorite
The book is my absolute favorite EKG/cardiology book for one simple reason: it is written very simply. For me, it was very hard to be able to figure out even where to start. I’d watched lectures many times, but it just did not register. It was like reading another language. The Rapid Interpretation of EKG book’s format is in fill in form, making it easy for the student to build confidence, understand the rationale behind the answer, and link the concepts together, creating very easy clarity.
Dubin’s book also slowly becomes more complex, allowing the student to make sure they understand the basics prior to moving forward with instruction. There are also non-medical examples that stress axis, rate, and calculating the pulse, which seemed to work better for me. It applies the basic principles, slowly but surely increasing the knowledge base, but covering everything.
Another great benefit to this book is that it is very quick to work through. If you are a clinician who is nearing the PANRE and admittedly freaking out a bit because you haven’t looked at an EKG in years, this is the book for you. You could honestly get through it rapidly and hit the high points needed for the exam. If you are working with EKGs on a more regular basis and make clinical decisions frequently based on interpreting EKGs, it would be a good start, but should not be the only resource used. Lastly, it is about $40 new online, or $10 to $20 used, and in my opinion, worth every penny!
What other resources are available? – Seasoned Clinicians
In terms of other resources available for the more seasoned clinician, another important resource that is available is ECGs for the Emergency Medicine Physician Part I and II which is written by Amal Mattu and assumes a basic knowledge of the EKG. So, if you are looking for a place to start, this would not be the choice for you initially. This is designed for clinicians who work in the ED or critical care setting, who interpret EKGs routinely. The format is case studies, in which an EKG is presented with minimal information, much like in real life.
If you are an ED physician, this might mimic what you see in clinical practice. An EKG is done on your patient in triage, and you are trusted to interpret it, sometimes without having done an exam on the patient yet, with minimal information other than a short chief complaint. I liked this particular format because in the other section of the book, it goes through each EKG line by line, to help the reader understand what is happening and gives the outcome. It is fairly affordable online, between $30 and $50.
There is also another resource from this creator, which is an online subscription called “ECG Weekly”. This subscription costs $26 per year, or can be a cost of $3 per month, depending on the length of the subscription. It goes over a weekly EKG, from start to finish, helping the reader to interpret the EKG and also gives the outcomes.
Reddit and EKG Tricks
There are numerous options available, including books, podcasts, online forums, and others which are available to help the student or clinician increase their mastery of the EKG. One popular online resource includes Reddit, an online forum with numerous clinicians and students weighing in on their favorite resources, tricks for interpreting an EKG, and more.
Life in the Fast Lane
Another valuable resource that I have looked at from time to time is the online resource, “Life in the Fast Lane”. This has coverage of up to 100 ECG types and topics and allows for comprehensive review, at your own pace. I enjoy the format of this because the answers/summary/course is hidden, so you can look through a particular part as you progress. The wrap ups at the end are helpful as well, as it gives you the patient’s course and outcome.
To be honest, I do not review EKGs very often. In a busy family practice office, I order an EKG perhaps 1 to 2 times per month. As I have mentioned before, my process is to hear nothing about the EKG prior to reviewing it. I have instructed my medical assistant or LPN to never tell me anything about what the machine reads, so I can make my own decision. As a result of the lack of routine EKGs, it could be easy to lose touch with an EKG, but I try to intermittently review common EKGs so that I continue to be familiar.
AHA ACLS Pre-course Assessment
One of the easier ways to do this and well put together resources is the American Heart Association’s ACLS pre-course assessment, which involves EKGs. As an occasional moonlighter at the urgent care, I have kept both my PALS and ACLS certifications. The pre-assessment course has a full section involving EKG interpretation, which is really well put together and covers all of the routinely seen EKG findings, including heart block, STEMIs, Ventricular fibrillation, SVT, and much more. I have always found this to be a very good review of all of these conditions, allowing me the ability to pick out these rhythms and help me review the more commonly seen conditions.
The EKG can be confusing and stressful, for both clinicians and students, but it really does not have to be. I hope today’s discussion of some of the more popular resources has been helpful!
This article or blog post should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing standard of care in a legal sense or as a basis of expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast or blog.