From January 1, 1911
CAN RECORD THE BEATING OF YOUR HEART MILES AWAY: Delicate New Instrument Brought to This Country Accurately Registers Every Cardiac Motion — Test by Human Ear Will Be Supplanted. (PDF)
Until the invention of the electrocardiograph, doctors had to use their ears to figure out what was happening with your heart. But the EKG (the initials stand for the German name, elektrokardiogramm) took out the guesswork by measuring the electric pulses in your heart.
The article imagines a future where everyone has a terminal in their workplace connected remotely to “heart stations” where the main EKG lives:
“Hello! Is this Heart Station No. 1,000?”
“Yes; who is this and what will you have?”
“This is John Smith. Just hitch me up to your apparatus, take an electro-cardiogram, diagnose my case, and send me a prescription. I really haven’t time to go around and see you. Thanks. Good-bye.”
The patient pauses in his business rush long enough to attach his right arm and left leg to the wonderful electric machine with which his office, like all other up-to-date establishments, is equipped. The operator at the Heart Station takes the photograph of his heart action in a jiffy, and Mr. Smith goes back to his work.
In a few hours, or as soon as the heart expert has had time to examine the cardiogram he has taken, Mr. Smith receives the scientist’s diagnosis and knows whether the symptoms he has been experiencing are merely the temporary effects of some undue excitement he has recently undergone or are the more serious manifestations of some dreaded heart affection that will end his days unless he mends his steps and places himself under the physician’s care.
I guess in theory this could happen today. But we’d all need to be trained to make sure we are using the device properly. And they would probably not be cheap. So we still go in to the doctor’s office for an EKG.
The inventor of the EKG, William Einthoven, won the 1924 Nobel Prize in medicine for his invention.
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