June 24, 2019

Shock is one of the most important problems with which physicians will contend with.  The magnitude of the problem is illustrated by the high mortality associated with shock.  Assessment of perfusion is independent of arterial pressure, in that hypotension does not always need to be present to define shock.  Emphasis in defining shock is based on tissue perfusion in relation to cellular function. In this post, the basics of shock, we will define shock, discuss the causes of lactate elevation, and review the main categories of shock.

June 13, 2019

Background Information: Syncope is defined as a sudden transient loss of consciousness (LOC) followed by complete resolution. It represents 1-3% of all emergency department (ED) visits. 1 1% of all hospitalizations are due to syncope as it may have resulted from a serious underlying condition, such as arrhythmia, acute cardiac ischemia, pulmonary embolism or internal hemorrhage. 2,3 Prior studies have demonstrated that up to a half of these serious conditions, particularly arrhythmias, are missed during ED evaluation and become evident after disposition. 1 Several risk stratification tools, such as the Canadian Syncope Risk Score (CSRS; Figure 1) and the San Francisco Syncope Rule (SFSR; Figure 2) have been developed to help identify serious outcomes. 4,5 The authors of this study sought to describe the time to occurrence of serious arrhythmias relative to when the patient arrived in the ED and based on their CSRS risk category. Furthermore, their goal was to use the results of this study to provide guidance for decision making regarding duration and location of cardiac monitoring.

May 30, 2019

Background: Syncope, defined as a transient loss of consciousness with spontaneous and complete recovery to pre-event status, is a common emergency department (ED) presentation. Recently, we have discussed the lack of clinical utility in distinguishing syncope from near-syncope in terms of outcomes. In that discussion, we concluded: “In older adults (> 60 years of age), near-syncope appears to portend an equal risk of death or serious clinical event at 30 days when compared to syncope. These two entities should be considered as one when decisions are made in terms of evaluation in the ED.” While we argue for evaluation and disposition to be the same, we don’t address what the best disposition or plan is. While it is common to admit older patients with syncope/near-syncope from the ED, admission doesn’t inherently yield better outcomes.

May 23, 2019

Background: The clinical importance of immediate coronary angiography, with subsequent percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in OHCA patients without STEMI is a matter of debate.  We have already covered the COACT trial on REBEL EM, but this is a second study, the pilot phase of the DISCO trial, assessing immediate vs delayed coronary angiography in patients with OHCA and without STEMI on ECG.

May 20, 2019

Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common cardiac dysrhythmia encountered in the emergency department (ED), affecting 2.7 million - 6.1 million Americans annually. Hospitalizations with AF as the primary diagnosis total >467,000 annually. AF is associated with a 5-fold increased risk of ischemic stroke, a 3-fold increase in risk of heart failure, and a 2-fold increased risk of mortality. (1) Previous RCTs comparing outcomes of rhythm-control using antiarrhythmics with rate-control in patients with AF failed to show a benefit of rhythm control on mortality. (2,3) However, for some patients, rhythm control improves symptoms and is associated with a better quality of life. (4) Given that up to 70% of AF terminates spontaneously within 24 hours, can we adopt a delayed, or wait-and-see (WAS), approach to AF in the ED and avoid early cardioversion? (5).
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