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The mean QRS axis refers to the average orientation of the heart's electrical activity. In most cases, an approximation of the axis will be sufficient for the ECG interpretation. There are many different approaches to axis determination, but this discussion will be limited to a simple technique that uses the leads I and aVF to calculate an approximate axis.
The mean QRS axis is oriented towards the lead with the greatest net QRS deflection. To calculate the net QRS deflection, add up the number of small squares that correspond to the height of the R wave (positive deflection), and subtract the number of small squares that correspond to the height of the Q and S waves (negative deflection).
In actual fact, the net QRS deflection can be approximated without resorting to counting squares. In the example shown here, one can easily see that the net deflection is slightly more positive than negative.
Approximate the net QRS deflection for leads I and aVF. Remember that the mean QRS axis will be oriented towards the lead with the greatest positive net QRS deflection. If the net deflection is positive for both, the axis lies between leads I and aVF (0-90) and is therefore normal.