Investigators suspect that arrhythmias are behind the high incidence of sudden death in patients with severe chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Continuous electrocardiographic monitoring may help boost survival statistics, since it has repeatedly shown its ability to detect irregularities that standard ECGs miss. So-called benign arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, frequent ventricular premature contractions, and atrial flutter, are anything but harmless. In patients whose heart and lung function is already impaired by severe airway obstruction, these rhythm disorders can rapidly progress to a fatal cardiac arrest. Deciding how to treat the arrhythmia depends on the type of disturbance and the patient's clinical status. Direct-current shock or antiarrhythmic drugs can turn the tide in a desperately ill patient with acute respiratory failure. Correction of coexisting metabolic and ventilatory disorders often is crucial to successful therapy.
|Number of pages||7|
|State||Published - Nov 1 1976|