Several techniques are available to measure the heartbeat, with the electro-physiological measurement of the heart muscle signal or electrocardiography (ECG) being the most used one.
An ECG is not only suitable for measuring the heart rate and the regularity of heartbeats (heart rate variability or HRV), but also to extract additional information, such as the size and position of the chambers and the presence and place of any damage to the heart. Sometimes even upt to 128 electrodes are used for cardiac mapping.
A typical ECG recording of one heartbeat consists of a P wave, a QRS complex, a T wave, and in some cases also a U wave. Usually more than two electrodes are used for measuring the ECG. The most simple is the 3-lead ECG with one electrode on the left arm (LA), one on the right arm (RA) and one on the left leg (LL). These electrodes are often used to make three bipolar leads, being lead I (LA+RA), lead II (LA+LL) and lead III (RA+LL). A more elaborate ECG recording is the 12-leads ECG, in which also the so called precordial leads are measured.
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