Dangerous sign

[box]An 80 year old male with a past history of hypertension, high cholesterol, 50 pack years smoking, and bilateral fem-pop bypasses presents dehydrated and very weak.  His ECG is as shown below. What is your diagnosis?

ECG repeated few hours later showed,[expand title=”Open” swaptitle=”Close”]

[/expand] Luckily we have received the patients blood test results; can you interpret and confirm your diagnosis?[expand title=”Open” swaptitle=”Close”]



Answer [expand title=”Open” swaptitle=”Close”] You are right. Its case of acute renal failure with severe hyperkalemia. The first ECG sign of hyperkalaemia is peaked T waves and usually appears once K level is at 6 mmol/L.

Second sign is prolongation of PR interval which can be seen with K level going around or above 7 mmol/L.

Absent P wave with widen QRS complex is the third manifestation and is a very dangerous sign. It means that atrial activity is lost and stage is set for ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation. It is usually seen at level around 8-9 mol/L

At this point the patient becomes  paralysed by weakness and can have respiratory arrest and then Ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation is the price you pay for ignoring above changes on monitor.

See Recognising signs of danger: ECG changes resulting from an abnormal serum potassium concentration (source: Emerg Med J 2002; 19:74-77)

Post by : Dr Shane Trevithick[/expand][/box]


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