November 23, 2015

Background: We have already discussed the value of a good history in assessing patients with chest pain on REBEL EM. What is known about chest pain is that it is a common complaint presenting to EDs all over the world, but only a small percentage of these patients will be ultimately diagnosed with Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS). This complaint leads to prolonged ED length of stays, provocative testing, potentially invasive testing, and stress for the patient and the physician. For simplicity sake, we will say that, looking at the ECG can make the diagnosis of STEMI. What becomes more difficult is making a distinction between non-ST-Elevation ACS (NSTEMI/UA) vs non-cardiac chest pain. ED physicians have different levels of tolerance for missing ACS with many surveys showing that a miss rate of <1% is the acceptable miss rate, but some have an even lower threshold, as low as a 0% miss rate. Over testing however, can lead to false positives, which can lead to increased harms for patients. In November 2015, a new systematic review was published reviewing what factors could help accurately estimate the probability of ACS.

October 22, 2015

In case you have not heard or not read it on the twittersphere, the American Heart Association just released their 2015 Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) in Circulation. I am joined by Mr. Security, Matt Astin for this episode and we both read through this massive 15 part document and came up with our top 5 updates and recommendations. Now this is just a list of our top 5 new or updated recommendations, that caught our attention, but certainly there are other recommendations. If you want the cliff notes version of the updates look through part I, titled the executive summary or the Highlights PDF which we will attach on the blog, but certainly as always we recommend reading the full document to form your own interpretations and opinions.

February 6, 2014

Troponin testing is an important component of the diagnostic workup and management of acute coronary syndromes (ACS). The increasing sensitivity of troponin assays has lowered the number of potentially missed ACS diagnoses, but this has also created a diagnostic challenge due to a decrease in the specificity of the test. From 1995 to 2007, the limit of troponin detection fell from 0.5 ng/mL to 0.006 ng/mL (see below graph). Robert Jesse summed up this frustration with the following quote:
When troponin was a lousy assay it was a great test, but now that it's becoming a great assay, it's getting to be a lousy test.

December 3, 2013

The recognition of ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) in the presence of left bundle-branch block (LBBB) remains difficult and frustrating to both emergency medicine physicians and cardiologists.  According to the 2004 STEMI guidelines, emergent reperfusion therapy was recommended to patients with suspected ischemia and new LBBB however, the new 2013 STEMI guidelines made a drastic change by removing this recommendation.  Several papers have recently been published discussing a modified Sgarbossa's criteria and a new algorithm to help decrease false cath lab activation and/or fibrinolytic therapy but, are they ready for primetime?

November 1, 2013

ECG interpretation is one of the most important skills to master as an emergency  physician, and its interpretation can be very complex and frustrating. ECG manifestations can be very subtle, and sometimes the earliest and only ECG change seen will be reciprocal changes alone. To further complicate this, many patients have the atypical symptoms of nausea/vomiting, weakness, or shortness of breath and not chest pain.