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Shock in the Emergency Department February 28, 2014

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular , 10comments

March’s Case: You are working in the ED late one evening when an 82-year-old man is brought in by his son. His son reports that earlier today, his father had been in his usual state of health, but this evening he found his father confused, with labored breathing. On arrival, the patient has the following vital signs: temperature, 38°C; heart rate, 130 beats/min; blood pressure, 110/60 mm Hg; respiratory rate, 34 breaths/min; and oxygen saturation, 89% on room air. He is delirious and unable to answer questions. A focused physical examination demonstrates tachycardia without extra heart sounds or murmurs, right basilar crackles on lung auscultation, a benign abdomen, and 1+ lower extremity pitting edema. You establish intravenous access with a peripheral catheter and send basic labs. A further history obtained from the son reveals that his father has congestive heart failure with a low systolic ejection fraction, as well as a history of several prior myocardial infarctions that were treated with stent placement. As you consider this case, you ask yourself whether this patient is in shock, and if he is, what are the specific causative pathophysiologic mechanisms? You review which diagnostic tests are indicated to assist with the differential diagnosis of shock and you consider options for the initial management of this patient.

Tell us your diagnosis in the comments box below and check back regularly to see what other emergency physicians have said.  The correct diagnosis will be published on March 8!

Case Conclusion — Cardiotoxicity February 6, 2014

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular, Drugs & Emergency Procedures, Hematologic/Allergic/Endocrine Emergencies, Toxicologic and Environmental Emergencies , add a comment

You tracheally intubated the young woman who had been taking verapamil and collapsed. You then gave her atropine and calcium and started her on a norepinephrine infusion. However, despite these therapies, she remained hypotensive and bradycardic. You then administered high-dose insulin therapy (1 U/kg/h), with a 10% dextrose infusion. Her hemodynamic status began to stabilize, with resolution of her hypotension and bradycardia. She was admitted to the ICU for further management.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a diagnosis to this month’s challenge. Would you like to learn more about cardiotoxicity management?

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“Broken CT Scanner…” Case Conclusion December 7, 2013

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular , 2comments

Case re-cap:

The next week, you are working at a free-standing ED where the patients are checking in at record volume. You are getting pressure to see and discharge patients as fast as possible when you see a 21-year-old male presenting with chest pain radiating to his back, along with some shortness of breath. The patient reports no improvement in symptoms with over-the-counter analgesics. The patient plays on the local varsity basketball team. He has no known medical history, and his social history is negative for tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs. He appears slightly anxious and has a blood pressure of 155/90 mm Hg and a heart rate of 95 beats/min. He is tall and thin and has reproducible chest tenderness. Your CT scanner has unexpectedly gone down and is unavailable for the rest of the night. ECG shows a normal sinus rhythm without evidence of ischemia and a plain chest radiograph appears normal. As you start to watch your department getting backed up, the nurse states that he is concerned about this patient. You assess the patient as low risk for pulmonary embolism, so you decide to get a D-dimer, which comes back negative. You wonder if this patient has something more significant and what your diagnostic options are…

Case conclusion:

Although you were tempted to discharge the 21-yearold patient with reproducible chest pain with costochondritis, you noticed that he appeared to have marfanoid features. Since your CT scanner was down, you decided to do a bedside ultrasound, which showed a large pericardial effusion with early signs of tamponade and an undulating flap within the descending abdominal aorta. You immediately started an esmolol and nicardipine drip and transferred the patient to the local tertiary care center where he was ultimately diagnosed with a type A dissection and underwent immediate repair. You reminded yourself to thank the nurse the next time you see him for not letting you dismiss the patient so quickly.

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Broken CT Scanner… December 1, 2013

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular , 39comments

The next week, you are working at a free-standing ED where the patients are checking in at record volume. You are getting pressure to see and discharge patients as fast as possible when you see a 21-year-old male presenting with chest pain radiating to his back, along with some shortness of breath. The patient reports no improvement in symptoms with over-the-counter analgesics. The patient plays on the local varsity basketball team. He has no known medical history, and his social history is negative for tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs. He appears slightly anxious and has a blood pressure of 155/90 mm Hg and a heart rate of 95 beats/min. He is tall and thin and has reproducible chest tenderness. Your CT scanner has unexpectedly gone down and is unavailable for the rest of the night. ECG shows a normal sinus rhythm without evidence of ischemia and a plain chest radiograph appears normal. As you start to watch your department getting backed up, the nurse states that he is concerned about this patient. You assess the patient as low risk for pulmonary embolism, so you decide to get a D-dimer, which comes back negative. You wonder if this patient has something more significant and what your diagnostic options are…

Knowing the CT scanner is down, what steps could you take?

(Leave a comment to be eligible to receive a free copy of the December 2013 issue of Emergency Medicine Practice, which features this case. To do so, simply enter your response in the comments box. The deadline to enter is December 6th.)

Bradydysrhythmias… September 1, 2013

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular , 12comments

It is about 20 minutes into your shift when EMS arrives with a pleasant 80-year-old woman who has had a syncopal event. She describes standing in her home earlier today and becoming lightheaded and falling to the ground. She is now resting comfortably, and her vital signs are: blood pressure, 140/72 mm Hg; pulse rate, 74 beats/min; respiratory rate, 14 breaths/min; and oxygen saturation, 99% on room air. You have just begun to take her history when you are interrupted and called to your next patient…

You approach the bedside of a 27-year-old woman who is pale, diaphoretic, and writhing in pain. The only history you are able to obtain is that she has had mild lower abdominal pain for a few days that acutely worsened today. Initial vital signs are: blood pressure, 70/40 mm Hg; pulse rate, 58 beats/min; respiratory rate, 20 breaths/min; and oxygen saturation, 99% on room air. Your brief exam is significant for diffuse abdominal tenderness and guarding. You then hear a flurry of activity from the hallway…

Your next patient is being rushed down the hall on a stretcher. Brought in by a family member for intermittent lightheadedness and shortness of breath, this 64-year-old man is pale and diaphoretic, with depressed mental status. A quick check of his radial artery demonstrates a weak pulse with a palpable rate of approximately 40 beats/min. You quickly place him on the cardiac monitor and notice what appears to be a third-degree heart block. Initial vitals are: blood pressure, 82/40 mm Hg; pulse rate, 38 beats/ min; respiratory rate, 18 breaths/min; and oxygen saturation, 98% on room air.

These 3 cases represent some of the variable presentations of patients with bradydysrhythmias. The underlying pathology for these patients ranges from the benign to the life threatening. You approach each case in a systematic manner, knowing that prompt evaluation, recognition, and treatment can make the difference.

How would you manage these 3 patients?

(Leave a comment to be eligible to receive a free copy of the September 2013 issue of Emergency Medicine Practice, which features this case. To do so, simply enter your response in the comments box. The deadline to enter is September 6th.)

“Dysrhythmias in the ED…” Case Conclusion February 6, 2013

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular , add a comment

Case re-cap:

The morning shift in the ED has just started and the nurse approaches about an 85-year-old male from a nursing home who is febrile to 39.5°C, is tachycardic with a heart rate of 160 beats/min, and has a blood pressure of 98/57 mm Hg. He has a history of dementia, diabetes, and hypertension and is nonverbal at baseline. He is minimally responsive and unable to give additional information. You begin fluid resuscitating him and administer acetaminophen, and you notice on the monitor that his heart rhythm is irregular.

Case conclusion:

The first patient’s ECG (shown below) shows AF with preexcitation consistent with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Because the patient was hemodynamically stable, you obtained 2 large-bore peripheral IV lines and began an infusion of procainamide, coadministering a normal saline bolus. She converted to normal sinus rhythm and felt much improved, with normal repeat vital signs. Her repeat ECG showed a short PR interval with delta waves. She had no prior history of this, no past medical history, and a CHADS2 score of 0. You consulted cardiology for an electrophysiology study, and she was successfully ablated and discharged home.

Image used with permission of www.ecglibrary.com

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Dysrhythmias in the ED… January 31, 2013

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular , 16comments

The morning shift in the ED has just started and the nurse approaches about an 85-year-old male from a nursing home who is febrile to 39.5°C, is tachycardic with a heart rate of 160 beats/min, and has a blood pressure of 98/57 mm Hg. He has a history of dementia, diabetes, and hypertension and is nonverbal at baseline. He is minimally responsive and unable to give additional information. You begin fluid resuscitating him and administer acetaminophen, and you notice on the monitor that his heart rhythm is irregular.

What is the safest way to control the patient’s rhythm? Should he be anticoagulated and if so how?

(Enter to win a free copy of the February 2013 issue of Emergency Medicine Practice, which features this case, by submitting your answer to the question above. To do so, simply enter your response in the comments box. The deadline to enter is February 6th.)

“High-risk of stroke…” Case Conclusion January 7, 2013

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular, Neurologic , add a comment

Case re-cap:

A 72-year-old woman with a history of hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and chronic kidney disease presents shortly after experiencing a 20-minute episode of slurred speech and right facial droop. She denies experiencing similar events in the past, but she does endorse a transient episode of vision loss a week ago, intermittent vertigo, and left-sided weakness last month. On exam, her blood pressure is 178/100 mm Hg, her heart rate is 80 beats per minute and regular, and the ECG shows a sinus rhythm. Her stroke scale is zero, and noncontrast cranial CT scan shows an old small cerebellar infarct. It is Friday evening, and you have no inhouse neurology and no MRI capabilities overnight. The patient attributes her symptoms to stress and states that she has experienced anxiety and palpitations recently. She asks if it is necessary for her to be admitted or whether she can seek follow-up with her primary care physician next week.

Case conclusion:

You correctly identified that the 72-year-old woman was at a high short-term risk of stroke with an ABCD2 score of 6 and multiple recent episodes in different vascular territories as well as evidence of an old infarct on CT scan. At your recommendation, she agreed to admission. You arranged expedited etiologic workup, including carotid duplex and transcranial Doppler ultrasound, which was initially unrevealing. She experienced a brief episode of atrial fibrillation, which was captured on the cardiac monitor, before leaving the ED. Knowing that cardioembolic causes correlate with increased stroke severity and stroke mortality, you arranged for transthoracic echocardiography the next morning, which revealed a left atrial thrombus. She was started on anticoagulation and was recurrence-free at 3 months.

Congratulations to Ramy Yakobi, Jim Mitch, Patrick Bruss, Michael Dawson, and CD  — this month’s winners of the exclusive discount coupon for Emergency Medicine Practice. For an evidence-based review of the etiology, differential diagnosis, and diagnostic studies for Transient Ischemic Attack: An Evidence-Based Update, purchase the Emergency Medicine Practice issue on this topic.

High-risk of stroke… December 28, 2012

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular, Neurologic , 16comments

A 72-year-old woman with a history of hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and chronic kidney disease presents shortly after experiencing a 20-minute episode of slurred speech and right facial droop. She denies experiencing similar events in the past, but she does endorse a transient episode of vision loss a week ago, intermittent vertigo, and left-sided weakness last month. On exam, her blood pressure is 178/100 mm Hg, her heart rate is 80 beats per minute and regular, and the ECG shows a sinus rhythm. Her stroke scale is zero, and noncontrast cranial CT scan shows an old small cerebellar infarct. It is Friday evening, and you have no inhouse neurology and no MRI capabilities overnight. The patient attributes her symptoms to stress and states that she has experienced anxiety and palpitations recently. She asks if it is necessary for her to be admitted or whether she can seek follow-up with her primary care physician next week.

How would you handle this patient?

(Enter to win a discount coupon for an Emergency Medicine Practice subscription by submitting your answer to the question above. To do so, simply enter your response in the comments box. The deadline to enter is December 6th.)

“Lost consciousness on the job…” Case Conclusion December 6, 2012

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Cardiovascular , add a comment

The 49-year-old construction worker, acute coronary syndromes was your primary concern; however, given the patient’s recent history of deep vein thrombosis, a CTPA was ordered to assess for PE. This showed multiple central pulmonary emboli, including a saddle embolism. The exact wording at the end of this preliminary reading was, “clinically correlate if patient still alive.” You performed bedside cardiac ultrasound and saw a dilated right ventricle. Based on these findings, the patient was admitted to the ICU. Approximately 6 hours later, the patient became increasingly dyspneic and tachycardic. A repeat bedside ultrasound showed increased dilatation of the right ventricle. The patient was taken emergently to angiography, where rt-PA was administered into the central pulmonary vasculature. The patient’s hemodynamics improved, as did his symptoms. He was eventually discharged from the hospital on warfarin therapy.

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