Clinical Perspectives: Electrocardiogram in the diagnosis of heart conditions

Whenever a patient presents with chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, or irregular heartbeats, an electrocardiogram (ECG) will be ordered to determine any heart abnormalities. Many of these abnormalities may include coronary artery disease, unstable angina, acute myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathies, to name a few. Coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque in the arteries surrounding the heart, restricting blood flow and resulting in chest pain, which is also known as unstable angina. A myocardial infarction (heart attack) is whenever this plaque builds up so much that it completely blocks the vessels, causing the heart to lose blood supply and killing heart tissue. Some symptoms can include: chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. Arrhythmias are abnormally fast, slow or irregular heart beats. Cardiomyopathies are conditions affecting heart tissue, causing the tissue to be dilated, hypertrophic, or restrictive. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of lower extremities, coughing when lying down, dizziness, chest pain, and arrhythmias. Continue reading

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Clinical Perspectives: Multiple Myeloma and Serum Protein Electrophoresis

As a physician, a patient comes to you presenting with bone pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting. Ordered tests come back abnormal: the complete blood count (CBC) shows low cell counts with abnormal cells, calcium, urea and creatinine levels are elevated, and the X-ray demonstrates bone lesions. All these signs point towards multiple myeloma, a type of cancer in which plasma cells form multiple masses in the bone marrow. Therefore, a serum protein electrophoresis is ordered to confirm your suspicion. Continue reading