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In this paper, a new electrocardiogram (ECG) data compression algorithm is presented. This algorithm converts the 1-D ECG signal into a 2-D matrix and then preprocessing is performed in order to compress the 2-D matrix with the Set Partitioning In Hierarchical Trees (SPIHT) algorithm. The periods of ECG signals are found by the detection of the QRS complex, and then alignment and period sorting are used to convert the ECG signal into a matrix. The effect of Additive White Gaussian Noise (AWGN) on the quality of the compressed ECG signals is studied.