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Heart Attacks, Heart Rate, and Gel Electrodes: the invention of ambulatory cardiology

Ambulatory cardiology began in 1959 in a department of pathology to answer a question raised at the autopsy table: are high heart rates in apparently healthy individuals a risk factor for developing coronary artery disease? This question led to the development of a miniature monitor and a new kind of electrode, which enabled clinicians to measure EKG signals during activity and over prolonged periods of time. These electrodes are now used universally for diagnosis and for monitoring the heart during a myriad of different activities and circumstances. The story of the development of the monitor and electrodes illustrates the ways in which ideas and discovery lead to applications and advances in medicine.