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Syncope Rules

Patients presenting with syncope to the Emergency Department can pose a significant diagnostic challenge. The two main reasons for this are: Syncope is a symptom, not a diagnosis. We need to search for the underlying cause. Adverse events can occur, when none are obvious or predictable during our Emergency Department evaluation. We know that the rate…

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Diagnosing Ventricular Tachycardia in 5 easy steps

Here is a simple case of potential ventricular tachycardia(VT) How do you manage this? A patient has been brought into your resuscitation cubicle with the a complaint of palpitations. His ECG is as follows: The patient is obviously unstable, so the management decision is easy: ELECTRICITY. What if the patient is stable with a BP…

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Pericardiocentesis

How to Perform Pericardiocentesis Pericardiocentesis is used to treat symptomatic pericardial effusions and cardiac tamponade. It was first described in the 1650’s and since the introduction of the subxiphoid approach in 1911, has been used very successfully, with significant reduction in morbidity and mortality. The use of echocardiography and other guidance techniques have reduced the…

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The Unstable Atrial Fibrillation Patient

THE CASE A 75 yo man is brought into your small rural ED after 3 hours of ischemic chest discomfort.  His background is significant for hypertension, a CVA 5 years ago for which he is on aspirin/dipyrimidole, and 2 coronary artery stents in 1995.  The ambulance officers found the patient to be in AF, with…

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Pulseless Electrical Activity

Pulseless Electrical Activity(PEA) occurs in about 30% of cardiac arrest cases. Given that it’s not a shockable rhythm, it has a very poor prognosis, especially when associated with acute myocardial Infarction(MI)(1). More recently, the term pseudo-PEA, is used for those patients where we can’t find an output by feeling for a pulse, but there may in fact be…

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A patient with nausea, vomiting and lethargy

(Please note this is a free view of this week’s ‘own the ecg‘ blog. Enjoy). A 79 year old man presented to the emergency department with a 2 day history of nausea, vomiting, lethargy and left abdominal pain. He appeared pale, clammy and unwell. His initial observations revealed a pulse of 50/min, BP 170/87, sats of…

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Seizure, Syncope and Sudden Collapse

Associate Professor Peter Kas presents Seizure, Syncope and Sudden Collapse. The patient with syncope or presyncope becomes a challenge in the emergency setting. Although this diagnosis is reported to comprise 5% of emergency presentations, it seems like so much more than this. This lecture looks at the definition of syncope, which comprises three elements: a sudden…

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Age-Adjusted D-dimer for ruling out pulmonary embolism

We use D-dimer in patients with a low probability of a pulmonary embolism, to rule out the condition and thus avoid imaging. The level of D-dimer rises with many conditions and also with age, thereby reducing it’s specificity for this condition. In a retrospective cohort study of D-dimer cut-offs, Ackerly et al(1)  compared three proposals for…

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VT vs SVT with Aberrancy

The following ECG was sent to me recently. It’s a great case and a situation that we can all be faced with. The question is: Is this VT or SVT with Aberrancy? The further question is; What do you do when your treatment isn’t working? An 80 year old male presents feeling unwell with palpitations….

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The ECG of Athletes: Normal variations you must know.

The ECG of the athletes can pose a challenge in distinguishing pathological changes from those physiological changes, that are associated with physical training and cardiac remodelling. We don’t want to erroneously attribute heart disease to those with normal variants and more importantly, we don’t want potentially life threatening cardiac conditions being erroneously dismissed as normal…

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Cardiogenic Shock: Which Vasopressor to use

In the patient who presents with cariogenic shock, the cath lab and a stent or a CABG is probably the treatment of choice, however we don’t always have those luxuries. What inotrope(s) do we use in cariogenic shock? How do we approach those patients for the best outcome? Here is a recent case. It is…

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