Hypotermia in the elderly
An 88-year-old woman suffered a cerebrovascular accident and was found on the floor of her cold house.Materials and methods
At the time of admission to our division, the patient was unresponsive with a rectal temperature of 28 °C, blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg, and a heart rate of 40 bpm. The cerebral CT revealed a hypodense lesion in the temporal region. The ECG showed sinus bradycardia, prolonged PR and QTc intervals, and a classic “J” (Osborn) wave that was most pronounced in the lateral and inferior leads. The patient presented a low respiratory rate, hypoventilation, severe acidosis (both respiratory and metabolic), hyperkalemia, elevated liver enzymes, mild anemia, hyporeflexia, and sluggish pupil responses.Results
During rewarming with thermic blanket and heated intravenous fluids, the respiratory condition improved, and the ECG alterations disappeared. Twenty-four hours later, however, the patient died suddenly due to cardiac asystole.Discussion
This report analyses the effects of hypothermia and its clinical manifestations and provides a brief discussion of the electrophysiologic mechanisms underlying Osborn waves and the other electrocardiographic changes associated with hypothermia.
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Copyright (c) 2012 Gianpaolo Bragagni, Anna Alberti, Giuliano Castelli, Federico Lari
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