1. The long history of cardiac treatment
The early Egyptians who lived around 1550 B.C., already knew that the heart was important and powerful. Written in papyrus they stated that pain in the breast on the side of the heart suggested that there was something wrong with the function of the body and that death was nearby.
Where the early Egyptians threaten heart problems with herbs and beer, physicians in the Middle Ages believed that heart diseases were caused by an imbalance of bodily fluids, and bleeding was thought to restore this balance. Due to their limited understanding of the heart, treatments were often ineffective and sometimes even harmful.
That heart problems were caused by an imbalance in body fluids was debunked in the 18th century. Luigi Galvani, an Italian physician, discovered bioelectricity in 1767 during experiments with frogs. He noticed that the frog’s leg vibrated when touched by a metal object as a result of electricity produced by the muscle tissue. This discovery was important because it demonstrated that living organisms were capable of producing electricity. This work laid the foundation for electrophysiology.
But the biggest breakthrough in the history of bioelectricity occurred in 1901. In that year, Dutch physiologist Willem Einthoven invented the first electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) that could be used on the human body. A machine consisted of a series of wires and sensors attached to the patient’s arms, legs, and chest, which would record the electrical activity of the heart on a moving strip of paper. His invention revolutionized the study of cardiac physiology and allowed doctors to diagnose various heart conditions, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, and heart blockages.
Since Einthoven’s invention, ECG technology has continued to evolve. Today, ECGs are the standard diagnostic tool used in hospitals and clinics worldwide. In the next section, we will take a closer look at the different devices and applications that are used today to measure ECG.