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Latest Posts

Recognizing Different Arrhythmias: There’s An App For That

The recognition and management of cardiac arrhythmias is a must-have clinical skill for residents and physicians, and one that is often not well-taught at some institutions.

For example, deciding whether a patient is in a shockable rhythm, realizing what medications should or should not be given in a particular situation, or assessing the degree of atrioventricular block, can all be important considerations in patient care.

The Arrhythmias app, designed by Abe Balsamo, recently cracked the Top 10 list of most-downloaded medical apps in the app store.  This app represents Mr. Balsamo’s first foray into the app world, though he has several other apps in development, according to his website  The app’s growing popularity has been driven by its point-of-care abilities that appeal to healthcare professionals, especially emergency medical personnel.

Read below the jump to see how the Arrhythmias app can assist healthcare professionals with the recognition of different arrhythmias. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

The Heart And The Holidays

The human heart resides in a lighltless 98.6-degree chest cavity. Its contracting muscles are further cushioned by the well-lubricated glistening smooth pericardial sac. One wouldn’t think that the heart could sense the time of year. The heart’s rhythm should remain independent of the holiday season. But then there is December in the EP lab. They are as busy as the malls.

Is it the depressing weather? Or the short days? Or a post-Thanksgiving hangover? It’s hard to say, but every year for as many as I can remember, the EP lab rocks in November and December. And with the advent of deductible health plans, this holiday phenomenon has only intensified.

The I-90 of the heart, the AV node, seems to give out more in the holidays. I’ll never forget the Saturday in December many years ago when I did five “urgent” pacemakers — and neither will the pacemaker rep. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Atrial Fibrillation: 3 Notable Studies, 3 Important Questions

In treating atrial fibrillation (AF), this year has witnessed some real excitement. And not all the good news has to do with new pills. Recently, there has been a flurry of encouraging and objective news on ablating AF. Here are some comments on three notable studies that address three important questions:

1. What are the “long-term” success rates of AF ablation? 

On this important question comes an American Heart Association (AHA) abstract from the highly-regarded lab of Dr. Karl-Heinz Kuck in Hamburg. They report on a relatively young cohort of 161 patients who underwent AF ablation (using standard pulmonary vein isolation techniques) in 2003-2004. At an average of five years of follow up, more than 80 percent were either AF-free or “clinically improved.”

Real-world impression: Although late recurrences of AF years after successful ablation have been reported, my impression (having started with AF ablation in 2004) is that most who are AF-free off drugs after one year have remained AF-free thus far. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Sex And Your Defibrillator

Have a defibrillator and feel like getting frisky? For the first time that I can recall, there’s a very helpful article published in Circulation addresses the concerns of implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) patients and sexual activity. There’s all kinds of helpful tidbits, like this one:

A study of 1,774 patients who had experienced an acute myocardial infarction showed that sexual activity was a likely contributor in fewer than 1 percent of cases. In fact, regular physical exertion, such as that associated with sexual activity, was associated with a decreased risk of cardiac events in patients.

Now that’s helpful!

Recall that defibrillators are designed to detect rapid, potentially life-threatening arrhythmias. Most of the time, sexual activity does not lead to heart rates at a level that ICD’s would consider elevated during intercourse. (This, of course is patient specific). While your doctor can tell you the rate cut-off at which your ICD might possibly fire, watching your heart rate rise with a monitor during those moments might be a bit of a, shall we say, turn-off. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

The Problem Of Drug Extinction

Doctors are all-familiar with marketing efforts to promote new drugs, but once the new drugs displace older drugs in the medical marketplace, who serves as advocates for the continued manufacturing of older FDA-approved drugs?

In a short answer: No one.

For those of us dealing in cardiac arrhythmia management, this presents difficult challenges for patient care if people are unable to take the newer drugs due to side effects. These patients no longer have a fall-back option to turn to for medical therapy when the older drugs have become extinct on the marketplace. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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