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CriticAir: Starting to Read ECGs 1

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Title: CriticAir: Starting to Read ECGs 1

Author: Alan Davies and Alwyn Scott

Publisher: CriticAir Ltd, 2011

Reviewer: Adam Fitzgerald, staff nurse, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Essex

This book has won the 2011 British Medical Association Medical Book Award for the Health and Social Care category, as announced at a ceremony

at the BMA on 14 September 2011.

What was it like?

The book covers ECG interpretation and ties this in with conditions the patient may present with. CriticAir is a company specialising in as required ECG interpretation as well as educational courses in this area and ACS (Acute Coronary Syndrome).


What were the highlights? 

It uses detailed explanations or arrhythmias giving the aetiology of the changes in the waveform and then some of the symptoms and signs that can be expected from the patient. To support these, the authors have used real life ECGs as examples. The chapters are broken down into easy-to-digest chunks and are in a logical sequence starting from basic electrophysiology to diagnosis of cardiac conditions.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The layout of the book as aforementioned is clear and concise. It is split up into manageable chapters in a logical order. The book commences with the basic anatomy of the heart and the electrical pathways. This then progresses onto how to obtain a clear readable ECG and what to document if there are difficulties. After this the authors guide you through to characteristics of specific conditions. Another bonus is that the book is in colour and it makes it much easier to read. ECG interpretation isn’t always that thrilling a topic to read about however, it is vital.

At the end of each chapter the authors have put a small few paragraph summary and five to six questions to test your own knowledge. This helps reassure you about the knowledge that you’ve just read.

The book contains real ECGs as well as the simulated educational ones. This enables you to see what it looks like for a real patient. The majority of the images within the book are examples of real people rather than a diagram. For example, although there is a diagram of ECG electrode placement this is accompanied by the image of electrodes on a real patient.

Both authors are cardiac care nurses with an extensive background involving ECG interpretation. Plus they have gained insight from lead consultants at cardiac specialist centres. This also means that it incorporates things such as clinical competency and warnings for life threatening problems.

It’s very hard to find negatives to this book and the only thing that can really be said is that it is designed as an introduction to ECG interpretation; however it never claims to be anything other than that. The only downside to this is that there is no follow up for someone wishing to further their knowledge.

Who should read it?

This book could be useful for anyone starting out with ECG interpretation. It contains enough information to satisfy a student nurse or student doctor but is also detailed enough to supply information to those registered. Ideally though it is helpful to those who are new to cardiology, A&E or pre-hospital care where the reader can gain practice under supervision. 


  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • Anonymous

    This is the first of a series of books that will become more complex as you progress!

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  • Anonymous

    would this be a book for HCAs? I note they are now trained in recording ECGs but do they know how to interpret them and recognise dangerous arrythmias so that they can immediately alert the medical services.

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  • There requires some cardiac background knowledge to understand the ECG just using this book but as an aid for HCA's it might prove useful.

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