What Is The Best EKG Book?

Many people initially have a tremendous amount of difficulty learning how to read an EKG. I'm sure that there are some superbly intelligent people who are an exception to this rule, but for the rest of us normal humans, having the best EKG books to help you learn can make or break you. When I was a student, I had a lot of trouble with EKGs. I remember sitting in class, frustrated while it seemed like everybody understood these funny lines on the little red boxes but me. I was getting so frustrated, and my ego was getting bruised. Instead of continuing to sink, I went out and purchased every EKG book that I could get my hands on- I own six EKG books to date. Now, not only am I very proficient at reading EKGs, I find cardiology fascinating and enjoy helping others. Heck, I love cardiology now! I was going to write about EKG book reviews, but I didn't want to end up with a 25 page document. Instead, I have decided to choose a couple of my favorite EKG books and tell you a little bit about them. For the purpose of this article, I am going to assume that you are a healthcare student and have little to no knowledge about how to read an EKG. For those who are more experienced, there are other EKG books that can help expand on what you already know, to be covered in a future reading.

The best thing that I ever did for myself was to go out and buy the book, “EKG Plain and Simple, Second Edition” by Karen M. Ellis. I think the problem with the book that we were using in class, was that it was too advanced for new learners. Not unlike math, you have to be able to understand the very basics of the way the heart works and its electricity before you can even begin to understand how to read an EKG. There are no shortcuts, believe me, I tried. EKG Plain and Simple is a soft cover workbook made by Prentice-Hall. I griped at the price, because it was about $65, but I swear, it was worth every red cent. The book starts out so basic, that anyone can follow along. The book starts out by explaining coronary anatomy and physiology and simplifies it wonderfully. It then begins connecting these simple concepts with the heart's electricity.

This book starts out very slow, and I mean very slow. There are pages where you will identify only R waves, and then only QRS complexes, and so on. Then, when you are done with each section, there is a place to check your answers in the back. Not only do you get to check your answers, but you get to find out why the answer is correct or incorrect. This helped me tremendously. As a bonus, this book comes with a CD that allows you to practice reading EKG rhythms. You can customize which ones the software will test you on in order to work on your weak points, or build up your confidence. If you feel lost with EKGs, get yourself this book– you will not regret it, I promise!

Another one of my favorite EKG books is, “The Only EKG Book You'll Ever Need” by Malcolm S. Thaler. This book is a little bit more advanced than the EKG Plain and Simple book, but still does an excellent job of simplifying everything that you need to know about interpreting EKGs. This is a much smaller book, but is packed with great information. It goes into heart blocks and identifying ischemia in order to expand on your knowledge base. If you feel that you are comfortable with the beginning concepts, you may want to skip ahead and purchase this book. It will make an excellent supplement to any course books that you are required to have. Do not make the mistake of refusing to buy yourself a supplemental book, just because your course, school or class does not require it. My paramedic school was weak when it came to teaching EKGs. When I was done with my books, I had the confidence to call out my instructor on a couple of EKG interpretation errors (I couldn't help myself!). I became the envy of my class, and loved helping other people out. I wasn't cocky; but I was very confident. I can't even tell you what a world of difference a couple of great books made in my career. Even today, paramedics with far more experience than me will often ask for my interpretation of their strip. I am always glad to assist when asked.

The moral of the story is: do not be afraid to spend a few bucks to supplement your learning materials. You cannot blame the course, you can only blame yourself if you neglect to prepare adequately. And one more thing, keep in mind that practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to cardiology. All of a sudden, you will find that the concepts just seem to click. When this happens, you will be able to continue to expand. Learning never stops!

EKG Book Reviews

Learning to read a strip takes time.