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I was recently found to have "Left Axis Deviation" (LAD) on my EKG. What does that mean?

General responses to selected questions from Joel Braunstein, MD, of Johns Hopkins University and Joseph Toscano, MD.

Question:

I had an EKG for life insurance, and they said "current ecg with significant Left axis deviatiion, which may be causing inferior q waves in 3 leads." Can you please tell me what that means? Thank You.

Answer:

"Left Axis Deviation" (LAD) refers to the pattern of electrical activation that occurs in the heart. LAD is an EKG-specific finding and not necessarily indicative of any specific cardiovascular condition. In fact, LAD is the most common EKG "abnormality" observed in adults, occurring in almost 10% of the adult population. LAD, however, may also occur in the presence of one of multiple cardiac conditions, including: thickening of muscle mass in the left ventricle (left ventricular hypertrophy), inferior-wall heart attack, high blood potassium levels, congenital abnormalities such as an ostium primum atrial septal defect, and artificial cardiac pacing. It is important to recognize these potential conditions, since unique treatments often apply to each of these conditions. In isolation, LAD has little clinical significance.

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