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By: Lisa M. Endee, MPH, RT, RRT-SDS, RPSGT on September 8th, 2022

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The Fundamentals of EKG

AAST education | Education | EKG

A vital component of a full night polysomnogram is the monitoring of a patient’s heart rate and rhythm via the electrocardiogram (EKG) channel, as it gives a graphical illustration of the electrical activity of the heart and provides an important tool for maintaining patient safety. Understanding the components of the EKG is central to identifying heart rate and rhythm disturbances and assessing a patient’s cardiovascular status.

Sleep technologists diagnose and treat patients with a wide range of sleep disorders, including sleep-related breathing disorders. Additionally, many of the patients they work with suffer from other comorbid cardiopulmonary conditions, such as hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure – all of which put stress on the heart and can increase the likelihood of aberrant rhythms. As a result, sleep technologists must be highly competent in identifying the various components of the EKG, be able to recognize abnormal and/or deteriorating rhythms, and know when and how to respond when necessary.

Fortunately, the AAST recently released its Fundamentals of EKG series, which includes content on cardiac anatomy and physiology, rhythm interpretation and EKG-related case studies.

These three modules will assist sleep technologists in improving their skills and strengthening their understanding of cardiac anatomy and electrophysiology as it relates to the EKG. Additionally, they will learn how to identify abnormal heart rhythms. Case studies of EKG rhythm disturbances encountered in the sleep center presented in module three provide an opportunity for technologists to apply the skills gained in the first two modules to real-life scenarios.


The Fundamentals of EKG Series aims to improve the competency and preparedness of sleep technologists for diagnostic and therapeutic management of their patients and, ultimately, improve patient safety in the sleep laboratory environment. To purchase your access, visit the AAST website.