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In this paper, we use the multidimensional multiscale parser (MMP) algorithm, a recently developed universal lossy compression method, to compress data from electrocardiogram (ECG) signals. The MMP is based on approximate multiscale pattern matching , encoding segments of an input signal using expanded and contracted versions of patterns stored in a dictionary. The dictionary is updated using concatenated and displaced versions of previously encoded segments, therefore MMP builds its own dictionary while the input data is being encoded. The MMP can be easily adapted to compress signals of any number of dimensions, and has been successfully applied to compress two-dimensional (2-D) image data. The quasi-periodic nature of ECG signals makes them suitable for compression using recurrent patterns, like MMP does. However, in order for MMP to be able to efficiently compress ECG signals, several adaptations had to be performed, such as the use of a continuity criterion among segments and the adoption of a prune-join strategy for segmentation. The rate-distortion performance achieved was very good. We show simulation results were MMP performs as well as some of the best encoders in the literature, although at the expense of a high computational complexity.