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A data compression technique is presented for discrete-time electrocardiogram signals. The single lead electrocardiogram signal is decomposed into several multiresolution subsignals by using a quadrature mirror filter bank. The resultant subsignals are compressed according to their frequency contents using various coding methods, including a discrete cosine transform based technique and pulse code modulation with variable length coding. Compression ratios as high as 5.7 are obtained without introducing any visual distortion.