March 22, 2021

Background:  Chest pain is one of the most frequent presenting patient complaints in emergency departments (ED) and has an extensive differential diagnosis with very different levels of severity (1). Many of these chest pain presentations require a significant stay in the ED to rule out acute coronary syndromes (ACS). Low-risk chest pain has been defined by consensus guidelines as having a less than 1% risk of a Major Adverse Cardiac Event (MACE) - a composite of death, myocardial infarction (MI) and coronary revascularization (2,3). There is certainly an overuse of troponin ordering in certain low-risk chest pain populations, translating into unnecessary resource utilization and possible downstream patient harm. The HEART Pathway combines a History, ECG, Age, Risk factors (HEAR) score and serial troponins to stratify patients with acute chest pain and attempt to identify those who most likely do not have ACS that are most suitable for early discharge from the ED without further testing (4). The HEART Pathway ideally reduces hospitalisations from the ED and outpatient cardiac testing, but it is not known if there exists a sub-population of very low-risk patients who could be objectively identified for discharge without any troponin testing at all. This study sought to measure the MACE rate among very low-risk chest pain patients, as defined by a HEAR score ≤1, and determine whether the HEART Pathway requires troponin testing among very low-risk patients to achieve an accepted missed MACE event rate of less than 1%.

March 3, 2021

Background: One of the most common reasons for Emergency Department (ED) visits is chest pain. While most of these presentations are at a low risk for cardiac events, it is generally required to perform a full work-up to rule out an Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS), including an Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI), before being discharged responsibly. The biggest challenge for physicians is to not only identify patients who are likely to have ACS but also to identify low risk patients that can be safely discharged without prolonged stays for further investigation. The current standard of practice, including risk assessment protocols, recommend using serial troponin testing and detection of absolute changes in troponin levels to rule out AMI in the ED. Recent studies using high sensitivity troponin (hsTnT) have shown that if the initial troponin is very low, one troponin may be sufficient to safely discharge patients from the ED, especially when combined with the HEART score. In practice however, in countries where hsTnT is not generally available, some clinicians have adopted this strategy using conventional troponin. This particular practice of using single conventional troponin testing has not been studied well.

April 30, 2018

I was working a busy shift in the ED, like many of us do, and the next patient I was going to see was a 57 year old male with no real medical problems complaining of chest pain.  I remember thinking as I walked into the room this guy looks ashen and diaphoretic….he doesn’t look well.  He is a paramedic telling me how he has been having off and on chest pain for the past several months.  He just had a stress test two months ago that was “negative”.  Today he was working on his pool and developed the same chest discomfort as he had been having off and on the past several months, but today, the pain would just not go away.  In his mind, he thought this might be an ulcer and just needed some Pepcid to help. He got put on the monitor and an ECG was run… The patient involved in this case has given permission to share the story, and relevant images with the knowledge that this information will be used for the purposes of education.

April 30, 2018

I was working a busy shift in the ED, like many of us do, and the next patient I was going to see was a 57 year old male with no real medical problems complaining of chest pain.  I remember thinking as I walked into the room this guy looks ashen and diaphoretic….he doesn’t look well.  He is a paramedic telling me how he has been having off and on chest pain for the past several months.  He just had a stress test two months ago that was “negative”.  Today he was working on his pool and developed the same chest discomfort as he had been having off and on the past several months, but today, the pain would just not go away.  In his mind, he thought this might be an ulcer and just needed some Pepcid to help. He got put on the monitor and an ECG was run… The patient involved in this case has given permission to share the story, and relevant images with the knowledge that this information will be used for the purposes of education.

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.
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