It is difficult to determine if a patient with a left bundle branch block (LBBB) has an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) because ST segments are “appropriately discordant” with the terminal portion of the QRS. That means if the QRS complex is negative (or downgoing), the ST segment normally will be positive (or elevated). Similarly if the QRS complex is positive (or upgoing), the ST segment will be negative (or depressed).
Have you been in a situation where you are the first to detect a cardiac murmur in a patient? If you are hearing it in a busy, loud Emergency Department, I find that it’s at least a grade III.
Should you order an echocardiogram for further outpatient evaluation? It depends on the grade and characteristic of the murmur, in addition to the patient’s symptoms. For instance, all diastolic murmurs require an echo. There is a useful ACC/AHA algorithm which helps you decide.
How do you risk-stratify undifferentiated chest pain patients in the Emergency Department? There are a multitude of causes for chest pain. We are always taught to think of the 5 big life-threats: ACS, PE, aortic dissection, tension pneumothorax, and pericardial tamponade.
So how do YOU risk-stratify your patients for unstable angina (UA) and non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI)? STEMI’s are usually obvious. UA and NSTEMIs — not so much.
Fortunately a 2000 JAMA article and a followup Academic Emergency Medicine 2006 study have solidified the TIMI risk scoring system as a reasonable risk-stratification tool for all-comer ED patients with chest pain requiring an ECG.
Acute limb ischemia (ALI) is a true vascular emergency. It doesn’t occur as frequently as the more high-profile conditions as cerebrovascular accidents and acute myocardial infarcts, but it portends similarly high morbidity and mortality risk.
- How do you stage a patient with ALI, based on the Rutherford classification system?
- What is the ED treatment plan?
- Should this patient go to Interventional Radiology or the Operating Room for more definitive management?
The treatment of shock should focus on correcting the underlying pathophysiology. With persistent hemodynamic instability, a vasopressor and/or inotrope should be selected. Reviewing receptor physiology can help you select the best-fit agent for the patient’s clinical condition. There is an especially useful table on medication selection in the reviewed 2008 EM Clinics of North America article.
This installment of the Paucis Verbis (In a Few Words) e-card series reviews Vasopressors and Inotropes for the Treatment of Shock.
A few days I wrote about my “peripheral brain” note cards that I carry with me on each ED shift. These cards contain brief summaries of updated guidelines, evidence based literature, and clinical pearls. I constantly get requests for a copy of them, but they are fairly outdated now that I’m out of residency.
So starting today, I’m going to start periodically posting new note cards in Word and PDF format that can be printed on any 4×6 inch index card. These will be posted every Friday. Feel free to download, edit, change font or font size, and use. You can add/remove cards as you collect them. Comments are definitely welcome.