37 Year Old Male–CC: Chest Pain, Part II

This is part II to “37 year old male–CC: Chest Pain“. You may wish to review the case.

So, while many of our cases are straightforward, this one is not.

But hey, our patients don’t read the textbooks!

First, let’s review the chief complaint:

Our 37 year old male had “chest tightness”, but complained of lethargy and “chills” for at least a couple of days. While we must take the complaint of chest pain seriously, many of you pointed out that the history did not seem like typical ACS. We can’t blow off chest tightness, but the history is no slam dunk.

Here again is the 12 lead ECG:

casestudy9:13-1

There is sinus rhythm at a rate of about 83 bpm. Axis is normal. QRS is slightly widened. PRI is normal, and we can debate whether or not there is slight PR segment depression. There is some artifact present. Using the TP segment, there is slight (<1mm) STE in leads II, III, aVF, V5 and V6. If you use the PR segment, which may have some slight depression, you will see a bit more ST elevation. All ST segments are upsloping. Regarding V2-V4, is there any ST elevation? Some will say yes, but there is some wandering of the baseline, and I am not convinced. If there is any, it is a small amount. All ST segments seem to be concave up. There is no reciprocal ST depression. We do not have the computer interpretation/measurements for this ECG.

What do we make of this ECG? Again, as in the history, no slam dunk. I think we can realistically consider three possiblities:

  • ACS
  • Pericarditis
  • Early repol

ACS: Was it reasonable for the crew to run this as ACS? I think so. Even if the story sounds a little odd, we can’t rule out ACS based on anything here. Does the ECG show STEMI? The constellation of changes we have is not really consistent with the ST elevation of STEMI. Some may point out the inferior ST elevations, but where is the ST depression in aVL? We don’t have it, and if it were inferior STEMI we should see it. In fact, there does not seem to be any reciprocal depressions anywhere.

In his most recent post, Dr. Smith writes: “Does inferolateral STEMI also have reciprocal depression in aVL? In my experience, yes. I have yet to see an inferolateral STEMI without some reciprocal depression in aVL, in spite of the lateral ST elevation in V5 and V6″.

We can treat for ACS, but I don’t think anyone is activating the cath lab based on this ECG.

Pericarditis: The favorite choice in the comments section was pericarditis. The history, especially feeling “sick” with “chills” for a few days opened up the possibility of infection. On the ECG, we have some widespread ST elevations, although not a large amount. There seems to be some slight PR depression, which is why I used the TP segment to measure the STE. The axis is towards lead II but slightly away from aVL, so I think the axis is somewhere between 70-80 degrees. This could be consistent with pericarditis, which is usually towards 60 degrees.

Early Repol: Could this be early repol? With slight concave up ST elevation, it could also be early repol and his normal baseline ECG.

Playing the odds, we can recall that pericarditis is in fact a relatively rare diagnosis.

In his most recent post, Dr. Smith writes that “baseline inferior ST elevation (early repol of the inferior leads) is more common than pericarditis, and if a patient complains of chest pain, and happens to have baseline inferior early repol, they are likely to get a diagnosis of pericarditis if they rule out for ACS”.

How do we manage our patient? I don’t think we can tell from this one ECG what the issue is. The ECG is non-diagnostic. As I said earlier, I think it is reasonable to treat for ACS. While this case may not scream ACS, we can’t rule it out either. It doesn’t appear to be STEMI, so I don’t think we need to activate the cath lab.

Supportive care is in order, but what I really think would be helpful are serial ECGs. We may see evolutionary changes of ACS or of pericarditis, or we may see no dynamic changes at all. But it would probably give us more insight into his condition.

In the ED, echo and troponins would likely give us the diagnosis.

So how did the crew handle our patient? They opted to activate the cath lab and treat with ASA and NTG. Upon arrival at the cath lab, the cardiology team is split as to what to do before finally deciding on angiogram to rule out any blockages. The cath was clean.

The final diagnosis was “reaction to medication”. Apparently he had not been compliant with how to take his regimen of pain meds.

This case was not straightforward, but sometimes these types of cases can be the most interesting. They inspire a lot of great comments and discussions as well. Thanks to all who participated!

2 Comments

  • JBuckle says:

    With the final part of the case posted I feel I can finally acknowledge how great it has been to read the discussion around this case. It was a really odd case and really split us as a crew so it was interesting to see what other people would conclude.

  • David Baumrind says:

    Thank you again for the excellent case Jack!

1 Trackback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

EMS 12-Lead

Cardiac Rhythm Analysis, 12-Lead ECG Interpretation, Resuscitation

JEMS Talk: Google Hangout

Comments
Brian Brubaker
59 Year Old Male: Unwell
At a quick glance it looks like tombstones (R on T). At closer look without calipers, it appears to be accelerated ideoventricular rhythm due to complete heart block. Not enough information to go off of, so cardioverting or pacing might just kill the patient quicker than anything. Transport immediately since his sick heart could stop…
2015-07-02 05:49:02
Holden
59 Year Old Male: Unwell
I've only studied cardiology for a few months and have read Dubin's book 1.5 times so I'm not an expert by any means. However, can a possible interpretation be a junctional tachycardia with aberrant ventricular conduction and a STEMI? No P waves and aberrancy causing a slightly wide QRS (but not wide enough for V-Tach).
2015-07-02 00:50:22
James
59 Year Old Male: Unwell
This is a ugly EKG. Wide complex irregular tachycardia around 150's. A-fib and a-flutter are possibilities. He's severely symptomatic. At this point, all treatment is same, electricity. If A fib, it may not want to "shock out" easily. This may be a case where initial cardioversion at max joules would be prudent. Pulmonary edema likely…
2015-07-01 22:00:13
Bryan
59 Year Old Male: Unwell
Calcium has little to no side effects, given the first EKG I think it is reasonable to consider it for first line treatment. Repeat EKG after 5 mins and reassess.
2015-07-01 21:14:40
Mike MacKenzie
The Trouble with Sinus Tachycardia
An absolute must read for all Medics. Great article. I am always trying to tell students to consider referring to these fast rhythms as a narrow complex tachycardia, then start looking for the cause, be it physiologic response or an electrical conduction issue. And as many have stated, I often hear that it must be…
2015-07-01 20:11:34

ECG Medical Training

12-Lead ECG Challenge Smartphone App

Photobucket

12-Lead ECG Challenge Smartphone App - $5.99

  • Apple iOS
  • Android
  • Amazon
  • Web Based

  • FRN-TV video review
  • iMedicalApps.com review
  • Interested in resuscitation?

    FireEMS Blogs eNewsletter

    Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter

    Visitor Map / Stats

    Locations of visitors to this page


    LATEST EMS NEWS

    HOT FORUM DISCUSSIONS