Background: Cardiac arrhythmias and conduction abnormalities are frequently identified by emergency medical service staff in patients requesting emergency services.
Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study that aimed to analyze the characteristics of rhythm and conduction abnormalities in prehospital settings, in patients who requested emergency medical assistance for symptoms indicative for an arrhythmia or conduction abnormalities.
Results: From 180 patients included in the study (90 from a tertiary and 90 from a non-tertiary medical center), 92.78% presented an arrhythmia and 15.56% a conduction abnormality. A clear etiology was found in only 29.44% of cases. Ischemic patients presented a higher rate of atrial fibrillation (AF) (p <0.0001), while sinus tachycardia was more common in non-ischemic subjects (p = 0.02). Patients younger than 50 years of age presented higher rates of sinus tachycardia (p <0.0001) and right bundle branch block (p = 0.001), while those older than 50 years presented higher rates of AF (p <0.0001) and ventricular extrasystole (p = 0.014). There were no differences regarding the type of arrhythmia diagnosed in emergency settings, neither between genders or provenance environments, nor between regions served by a tertiary versus non-tertiary base station hospital.
Conclusions: The most frequently diagnosed arrhythmias in prehospital settings were atrial fibrillation and sinus tachycardia, while atrioventricular blocks were the most frequent conduction disturbances. Young patients more frequently present sinus tachycardia or right bundle branch blocks, while older subjects are more prone to develop ischemia-related AF and ventricular extrasystole. The lack of any significant differences between systems served by a tertiary vs. non-tertiary medical center indicates an efficient emergency system of care regardless of the geographical region.