The ECG Made Easy was first published in 1973, and well over half a million copies of the first seven editions have been sold. The book has been translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Indonesian, Japanese, Russian and Turkish, and into two Chinese languages. The aims of this edition are the same as before: the book is not intended to be a comprehensive textbook of electrophysiology, nor even of ECG interpretation – it is designed as an introduction to the ECG for medical students, technicians, nurses and paramedics. It may also provide useful revision for those who have forgotten what they learned as students. There really is no need for the ECG to be daunting: just as most people drive a car without knowing much about engines, and gardeners do not need to be botanists, most people can make full use of the ECG without becoming submerged in its complexities. This book encourages the reader to accept that the ECG is easy to understand and that its use is just a natural extension of taking the patient’s history and performing a physical examination. The first edition of The ECG Made Easy (1973) was described by the British Medical Journal as a ‘medical classic’.
The book has been a favourite of generations of medical students and nurses, and it has changed a lot through progressive editions. This eighth edition differs from its predecessors in that it has been divided into two parts. The first part, ‘The Basics’ explains the ECG in the simplest possible terms, and can be read on its own. It focuses on the fundamentals of ECG recording, reporting and interpretation, including the classical ECG abnormalities. The second part, ‘Making the most of the ECG’, has been expanded and divided into three chapters. It makes the point that an ECG is simply a tool for the diagnosis and treatment of patients, and so has to be interpreted in the light of the history and physical examination of the patient from whom it was recorded. The variations that might be encountered in the situations in which the ECG is most commonly used are considered in separate chapters on healthy subjects (where there is a wide range of normality) and on patients presenting with chest pain, breathlessness, palpitations or syncope. The book is longer than the previous editions, but that does not mean that the ECG has become more difficult to understand.