Definition: A life-threatening emergency in which there is a failure of the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms to handle extrinsic and intrinsic heat. The failure of thermoregulation leads to multi-system organ dysfunction characterized by alteration of neurologic function. Unlike in fever, hyperthermia is not caused by endogenous pyrogens that change the thermoregulation set point in the brain. Hyperthermia results from excessive heat production and/or inadequate heat dissipation Read more →
Author Archive for: Swami
Every few years we get updates in the guidelines based on new evidence. Guidelines give us a framework to work with in the treatment of disease processes, such as pneumonia. The last Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) guidelines update on the treatment of pneumonia came from 2005, but recently, the new 2016 guidelines were just published. This was a massive 51 page summary that starts off by saying:
“It is important to realize that guidelines cannot always account for individual variation among patients. They are not intended to supplant physician judgment with respect to particular patients or special clinical situations. IDSA considers adherence to these guidelines to be VOLUNTARY, with the ultimate determination regarding their application to be made by the physician in the light of each patient’s individual circumstances.” Read more →
Background: Acute asthma presentations account for more than 2.1 million Emergency Department (ED) visits annually. In the US, 8.4% of the population is affected by the disease. Current guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend a minimum of 5 days of oral prednisone to treat moderate to severe asthma exacerbations (NHLBI Guidelines 2007). Oral and parenteral dexamethasone have similar bioavailability, with a duration of action of 72 hours. There has been promising data on dexamethasone for acute asthma from the pediatric literature, as well as a 2-dose regimen in adults. However, due to the strong association with low patient adherence and poor outcomes, a single dose of a long acting oral medication in the ED may help prevent relapse of symptoms. Read more →
Background: When it comes to treating community acquired respiratory tract infections, macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin, clarithromycin, and erythromycin) are a common choice of agent. In 2010, 57.4 million macrolide prescriptions were written in the U.S. with azithromycin being the most commonly prescribed individual antibiotic agent overall with ~51.5 million prescriptions (Hicks 2013).
With more and more patients being prescribed macrolide antibiotics, an increasing amount of research has been put forth dealing with the safety concerns regarding these medications; specifically the thought that azithromycin use can lead to fatal ventricular arrhythmias. In addition to case reports a 2012 observational study published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted an association between azithromycin use and higher rate of both cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality (Ray 2012). This prompted the US Food and Drug Administration to issue warnings about the use of azithromycin and potential QT-interval prolongation and fatal ventricular dysrhythmias.
However, recent studies suggest that these concerns and warnings may not be accurate. A retrospective cohort study comparing older patients hospitalized with pneumonia that were treated with azithromycin to those who received other guideline appropriate antibiotics actually showed a lower risk of 90-day mortality in the azithromycin group. Further, there was no significant difference between the 2 groups in regards to risk of arrhythmia, heart failure or any cardiac event. (Mortensen 2014). Read more →
Background: Hemorrhagic stroke accounts for only 11-22% of all strokes but up to 50% of all stroke mortality. Additionally, there is significant disability associated with the disease in survivors. Much of our attention in the Emergency Department (ED) is guided towards preventing expansion of bleeding and secondary injury after the initial insult. Physiologically, controlling blood pressure has always appeared to be a reasonable goal as it may decrease hematoma expansion and thus mortality. However, there is little high-quality evidence to guide clinicians in determining what the goal blood pressure should be and whether there’s truly a patient centered benefit to aggressive blood pressure management. The recently published INTERACT-2 trial demonstrated no benefit for death or disability for aggressive blood pressure control when started within 6 hours of symptom onset (though the authors touted benefits seen only after ordinal analysis) but some critics have argued that treatment should be started earlier. Read more →