Arrhythmias after Blunt Heart Trauma in Dogs
Traumatic Myocarditis in Dogs
Traumatic myocarditis is the term applied to the syndrome of arrhythmias – irregular heartbeats – that sometimes complicates a blunt trauma injury to the heart. It is a misnomer, because heart muscle injuries are more likely to take the form of cell death than inflammation (as the term myocarditis suggests). Direct heart injury may not be necessary for development of post traumatic arrhythmia. Non-heart related conditions are likely to have equal or greater importance in causing arrhythmias.
The prevalence of serious arrhythmias after blunt trauma is relatively low but some patients develop clinically important rhythm disturbances following trauma to the heart. Therefore, the heart rhythm of all victims of trauma should be carefully assessed.
Ventricular tachyarrhythmias (abnormal patterns of electrical heart beat activity starting in the ventricles) occur in most affected patients. Ventricular rhythms that complicate blunt trauma are often relatively slow and are detected only during pauses in the normal rhythm. They are most appropriately referred to as accelerated idioventricular rhythms (AIVRs), which is recognized by a heart rate that is greater than 100 beats per minute (bpm) but generally less than 160 bpm. Usually, these rhythms are harmless. However, dangerous ventricular tachycardias can also complicate a blunt trauma and can also evolve from seemingly benign AIVRs, placing the patient at risk for sudden death.
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