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Electrocardiogram Basics

by Greg Crowther


Context

This jingle, originally written for Biology 242 at UW-Bothell, outlines the basic components of an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Be sure to look at an ECG trace while studying these lyrics.


Lyrics

Atria depolarize,
But their repolarization is obscured;
Ventricles depolarize,
And their repolarization then occurs....

CHORUS:
P wave! And QRS complex!
T wave! And back to rest -- oh, yes!

Electrical! Mechanical!
They're different events you shan't confuse.
P waves are quite brief, and yet
The atria contract from Ps to Qs....

CHORUS (twice)

P wave!


Other Files

sheet music (with melody play-back)


Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using the audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity should begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.


Study Questions

(1) Are the P wave, QRS complex, and T wave action potentials?

(2) Why is the repolarization of the atria obscured?

(3) During which portion(s) of the ECG do the ventricles contract?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)