A simple device to illustrate the Einthoven triangle

Benjamin E. Jin, Heike Wulff, Jonathan Widdicombe, Jie Zheng, Donald M Bers, Jose L. Puglisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Einthoven triangle is central to the field of electrocardiography, but the concept of cardiac vectors is often a difficult notion for students to grasp. To illustrate this principle, we constructed a device that recreates the conditions of an ECG reading using a battery to simulate the electrical vector of the heart and three voltmeters for the main electrocardiographic leads. Requiring minimal construction with low cost, this device provides hands-on practice that enables students to rediscover the principles of the Einthoven triangle, namely, that the direction of the cardiac dipole can be predicted from the deflections in any two leads and that lead I + lead III = lead II independent of the position of heart's electricalvector. We built a total of 6 devices for classes of 30 students and tested them in the first-year Human Physiology course at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine.Combined with traditional demonstrations with ECG machines,this equipment demonstrated its ability to help medical students obtain a solid foundation of the basic principles of electrocardiography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-324
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Einthoven triangle
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Laboratory
  • Medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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