So he presents to the emergency department after this unexpected fainting or syncope episode in the restaurant.
He regained consciousness quickly but he felt somewhat dizzy and light headed when sitting up.
His physical exam with the EMTs when they arrived, the emergency medical technicians,
his blood pressure was 95/45 a very low blood pressure for an 82 year old man
and look at his heart rate it’s only 35 per minute that’s very slow.
He’s awake, alert, he knows who he is and where he is and so forth
but feels a little light-headed and a little dizzy
and when he’s brought to the emergency room there’s nothing remarkable about his blood counts
or any of his kidney or liver test.
So what’s critical in the story here is he has a fainting episode that was unexpected,
his blood pressure is quite low, his heart rate is quite low,
but fortunately he doesn’t look like he’s had a stroke or anything terrible like that
and here’s his electrocardiogram. Please take a look at this.
This electrocardiogram shows complete heart block.
There’s no relationship between the Ps and the QRSs.
See the little normal strip there?
PQRST, PQRST, PQRST, down below you have P waves randomly floating through in a very slow heart rate
from a ventricular pacemaker that has taken over
because there’s no impulse coming from above from the sinus node.
The treatment for this of course is going to be a pacemaker.
You might think, well, is this atrial fibrillation?
No, because we can see the P waves so it’s not atrial fibrillation,
it’s complete heart block and it certainly not ventricular tachycardia
which would be much faster and it’s not ventricular fibrillation - it is complete heart block.
Remember, atrial fibrillation would be very irregular, ventricular tachycardia would be very fast
with wide complexes on the QRS complexes
and ventricular fibrillation would be chaotic electrical activity,
so the only diagnosis that makes sense here is a complete heart block,
a failure of the conduction system which is not uncommon in an 82-year-old
and the treatment is a permanent pacemaker and he should do fine with a permanent pacemaker
that would set him back to having a normal heart rate and a normal heart blood pressure.