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?
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Last Updated on November 1, 2021