Category: Cardiology

Cardiomyopathy

The word cardiomyopathy is used as a general term referring to the abnormal structure or function of the heart.  Strictly speaking, the definition of cardiomyopathy excludes myocardial dysfunction due to coronary artery disease, systemic hypertension and valvular or congenital heart disease. However, you will still hear terms such as ‘ischaemic cardiomyopathy’ commonly used in clinical

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Tachyarrhythmias

Tachyarrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms with a pulse rate of >100 beats per minute (bpm). This can be due to a variety of causes, including physiological and pathological, and is a commonly encountered issue whilst on the wards – a patient’s heart rate contributes to their NEWS score (National Early Warning Score) and thus may

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Myocarditis

Myocarditis (derived from ‘myocardium’ = cardiac muscle, and -itis = inflammation) describes the inflammation of the muscular layer of the heart, the ‘myocardium’. The myocardium forms the majority of the atrial and ventricular wall thickness, with the pericardium superficial (surrounding the myocardium) and the endocardium deep (beneath the myocardium). The pericardium is formed of two

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Bradyarrhythmias

Bradyarrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms with a pulse rate of <60 beats per minute (bpm). This can be due to a variety of causes, including sinus node disease, atrioventricular disease, or toxins. Although the definition of bradyarrhythmia (brady- = slow, arrhythmia = abnormal rhythm) is defined as a heart rate (HR) <60bpm, many patients remain

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ECG Basics

The electrocardiogram (ECG) is one of the most common, and important, investigations interpreted by doctors. In order to help the interpretation process, it is necessary to understand the physiology behind the ECG. In this article, we will explore the basics of ECG physiology, and build on this knowledge for interpretation in later articles. In a

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Palpitations

Palpitations can be described as the sensation of an abnormally received heartbeat. It can be rapid, irregular, forceful or just an unusual awareness. Palpitations are a common presentation with patients of all ages and demographics. Occasionally palpitations can be life-threatening, however, most palpitations are non-urgent, treatable conditions. The key to decision making is a thorough

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Fluid Balance

Almost every patient admitted to hospital receives IV fluids at some point in their journey. However, the body manages this, without the need for careful medical assessment and adjustment, as fluid balance is one of its core functions. Despite this, there are many situations where we need careful and controlled management. These include: Electrolyte disturbance

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Infective Endocarditis

Infective endocarditis (IE) is relatively rare in the UK. However, delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to serious complications, and be fatal. Thus, it is important to be aware of the condition and its management. This article is a practical guide aiming to help you manage IE patients on ward cover and on their

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Syncope

From the Greek: Syn: together & kopein: to cut – referring to a block in blood supply from the body to the brain, most often due a drop in systemic blood pressure. It is defined as (1) temporary and transient (2) a form of loss of consciousness…

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Hypertension in Hospital

As a junior doctor, you will often be called about patients with raised blood pressure (BP) in secondary care. This differs from chronic hypertension in primary care for which the treatment is summarised expertly by NICE. Here we look at the assessment and management of hypertension in acute care, with a focus on hypertensive emergencies

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