So this 60-ish woman with an "extensive cardiac history" calls 911 for a little burning in her epigastrium, and a feeling of palpitations. Upon further questioning, she admits that she also feels like she has a "ton of bricks" on her chest.
We got an ECG in the ED which looked basically the same as the EMS tracing.
This is a tough one. It looks like we just fixed a potential cath lab patient, but you should be dubious. You can change a lot of ST depression with NTG and diltiazem, maybe even re-flip some inverted T-waves. But not too many things (at least until we get tenectaplase in the protocols) "fix" ST elevations.
So, the answer to confusion about new ECGs is usually an old ECG. Tough to do at 75 mph, but somewhat easier in room 5.
Our lady's ECG from the recent past:
|About 4 months ago|
Tyler and I compared the two, and agreed on our interpretation - activate the cath lab. After a brief conversation with one of the great cardiologists at Cardiac Specialists, our patient was whisked up to the cath lab.
Good thing too. Turns out she had thrombosed a stent that had been placed some years back in her RCA. Real bad luck for her, despite being on Coumadin for her a fib, as well as aspirin!
So what is the larger point here?
If the paramedic had just looked at the rhythm strip and (correctly) treated the rapid a fib, the less-prominent ST elevations might not have been noticed in the field. Heck, it might have slipped past me in the ED! On the other hand, a second ECG may have shown growing elevations - you never know. That's why in some regions EMS is now obtaining up to 3 ECGs in the field as a matter of protocol, and they are catching more STEMIs as a result.
By the way, when I talked to the cardiologist during the cath report, he had one request - that we send the patient up with the prehospital ECGs!