June 8, 2015

Background: Intravenous morphine use has been reported in nearly one of seven patients hospitalized with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF). I have anecdotally, even seen physicians giving morphine as a “first-line” agent: Nitroglycerine, Non-Invasive Positive Pressure Ventilation (NIPPV), and Morphine. There is surprisingly little evidence supporting routine use of morphine in ADHF, and no major American cardiology or emergency medicine society has really endorsed or published any recommendations on the treatment of ADHF with morphine. Most of us were taught the acronym "MONA," Morphine, Oxygen, Nitroglycerin, and Aspirin for treatment of acute pulmonary edema and commonly, quoted physiologic/clinical beliefs for the use of morphine in ADHF are: beneficial hemodynamic effects, managing anxiety/agitation in air hunger, reduction in preload, and maybe to a lesser extent, afterload, and finally, decreasing heart rate. We should also consider the use of morphine in a framework of risk and benefit. For example intravenous morphine can also have some deleterious effects like causing central nervous system suppression, ventilatory depression, and hypotension. The Acute Decompensated Heart Failure National Registry (ADHERE) is a large multicenter registry that records data from patients hospitalized with ADHF with more than 175,000 hospitalizations from over 250 hospitals across America. To be included in this registry patients must be >18years of age, admitted to an acute care hospital and receive a discharge diagnosis of ADHF. Data for this registry are collected by retrospective chart review and entered via an electronic web-based case report form for all consecutive eligible patients.

June 4, 2015

Background: In 2010, 5.4% of all emergency department (ED) visits in the United States were for chest pain. Admission or observation of such patients cost about $11 billion dollars in the United States in 2006. The majority of these admissions are commonly determined to be non-cardiac in etiology. Many physicians and patients believe that a hospital admission or extended observation after a “negative” ED workup has a safety benefit for patients. Previous studies have looked at 30-day mortality, but no current large trials have looked the short-term risk for clinically relevant adverse cardiac events, including inpatient STEMI, life-threatening arrhythmias, cardiac or respiratory arrest, or death. Other things to keep in mind is that one of the pitfalls of hospitalization of chest pain patients can lead to false-positive testing, hospital-acquired infections, venous thromboembolism, and other iatrogenic events, and can have greater than a 2% rate of adverse events at 30 days often cited as the upper boundary estimate for low-risk chest pain patients. The purpose of the current study was to quantify the incidence of short-term clinically relevant adverse cardiac events (CRACE), or more simply put, life-threatening events  in patients admitted to the hospital after a “negative” ED evaluation of ischemia. The definition of “negative” was negative serial cardiac biomarkers, normal vital signs, and non-ischemic electrocardiograms (ECGs). And by the way, checkout the authors: Scott Weingart and David Neman….

June 1, 2015

Acute severe asthma, formerly called status asthmaticus, is defined as severe asthma unresponsive to repeated courses of beta-agonist therapy or subcutaneous epinephrine. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate recognition and treatment. Recently, Anand Swaminathan (Twitter: @EMSwami) gave a lecture to the residents at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) February 2015. This post is a summary of that lecture on how to manage the crashing asthmatic.

May 28, 2015

Background: Vasopressors are frequently used in critically ill patients with hemodynamic instability both in the emergency department (ED) as well as intensive care units (ICUs). Typically, vasopressors are given through central venous catheters (CVCs) as opposed to peripheral intravenous (PIV) access due to the concerns about adverse events (i.e. tissue ischemia/necrosis) associated with extravasation through PIVs. In a truly hypotensive, critically ill patient the use of a PIV to administer vasopressors will allow the medication to stabilize the patient sooner and reduce the time to hemodynamic stability. The requirement to start vasopressors through a CVC may delay administration of pressors. Also, performing the insertion of a CVC in a hypotensive patient in an emergency circumstance versus an elective circumstance may increase the risk of adverse events from the procedure itself (i.e. bacteremia, pneumothorax, arterial puncture). Finally, most of the evidence cited for avoiding PIV administration of pressors is a sparse collection of case studies and expert opinion.

May 18, 2015

Patients with pulseless electrical activity (PEA) account for almost 1/3 of cardiac arrest and even more troublesome is that the survival rate is significantly worse than patients with shockable rhythms. Both the European and American ACLS guidelines stress the importance of quickly finding and addressing the cause of PEA. This is traditionally done with recalling the 5 to 6 H’s and T’s, but during cardiopulmonary resuscitation it is difficult to recall all 13 causes of PEA by trying to recall this list. In 2014 a review article was published that was developed by several departments from the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC that tried to simplify the diagnostic approach to PEA.