Awhile ago I’m sitting charting when the tele tech comes out of his cubby and says rather excitedly, “93’s rate dropped to 27 and is staying there!” I pop up, walk over to the room and and see my patient sitting at the side of the bed with a look that says, “What do you want?”
“Do you feel OK?” I ask as I’m slapping a BP cuff around his arm.
“Not dizzy, light-headed?” I press.
“Nope, nothings changed from when you were here last.” he says as the BP pops up 144/72.
“Your heart rate dipped into the 20’s and hung there for awhile, that’s all.” I reply.
Here’s the funny thing though: he had been doing this for days. No problems with the low pulse at all. Peeing fine. No light-headedness, dizziness, auras or any other weird lack-of-perfusing the brain problems. Only problem was when he moved about too much, he turned a lovely shade of eggplant purple.
Telemetry was showingwhat appeared to be a slow atrial fibrillation, but with his size, it would not have surprised me it if was a combination of junctional and ventricular escape rather than the a-fib due to the morphology of the QRS complexes. Even with that in mind though, it could have been a-fib with a bundle branch block. Then by luck, the morning before he was going to get a pacemaker the tele tech and I were chatting and examining his rhythm when we were able to get this shot.
It starts with a PVC, then a sinus beat and another PVC. Then it starts to get funky. The deflection of the QRS complexes shift in every lead except the V-Lead, flipping opposite from what they had been doing. There wasn’t slowing of the rate that could be coupled to this flip as he had gone lower several times during the night and his strips hadn’t changed like this. Looking back through, we noticed that he had been doing this all along, but had never captured it on paper.
So why question becomes: what the hell is going on here? Am I looking at a junctional/ventricular escape type of rhythm? Or an intermittent right/left bundle? And what could be causing this transient shift in axis, especially with no complaints from the patient?
And for what it’s worth, he got a pacer and looked much, much better the next day. But I’m still baffled. Any help?