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Novotny, Julia; Klein, Matthias Michael; Haum, Magda; Fichtner, Stephanie Raphaela; Thienel, Manuela Bernadette (2022): Prevalence of pathological arrhythmia in patients triaged to “cardiac arrhythmia” in the emergency department: a preliminary study. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 15: 49. ISSN 1865-1372

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Symptoms caused by cardiac arrhythmia are common problems that lead to presentation to the emergency department. However, the prevalence of pathological heart rhythm in patients triaged for cardiac arrhythmia in the emergency department remains up to now unknown.
Methods and results
In this retrospective study, patients triaged for cardiac arrhythmia admitted to the interdisciplinary emergency department of the Ludwig-Maximilians University Hospital in Munich within 1 year were included. Subsequently, cardiac rhythm in the 12-lead electrocardiogram, clinical presentation, admission rate, and diagnosis at discharge was analyzed. A total of 558 out of 39,798 patients were triaged for cardiac arrhythmia. Of these 42.3% of patients showed a pathological heart rhythm on the initial electrocardiogram (66.9% atrial fibrillation, 16.5% atrial flutter, 16.5% others). About 80% presented in emergency severity index III (many resources are needed without critical vitals) conditions. Sixty-two percent of the pathological electrocardiogram group and 60% of the sinus rhythm group of patients were admitted to the hospital, and 34.7% with pathological electrocardiogram underwent invasive investigations (16.8% in the sinus rhythm group). In 43.4% of patients, the diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmia was already known from previous medical contacts.
A total of 1.8% of patients who presented to our interdisciplinary emergency department were triaged for cardiac arrhythmia. With 49.5%, the hospital admission rate was quite high but the patients presented to the emergency department in our cohort were rarely in critical condition. As a high percentage of our cohort had a history of cardiac arrhythmia, better outpatient management is needed for these patients to reduce emergency department visits and save resources.

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