PAINE #PANCE Pearl – Pulmonology


A 68yo man, with a history of COPD and 57-pack-year history of smoking, presents to the office with worsening shortness of breath on exertion, dizziness, and leg swelling over the past 6-months. He states that his inhalers don’t seem to be helping as much and he is finding it more and more difficult to walk without getting breathless. He denies orthopnea, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, or increased cough. Vital signs show BP-157/98 mmHg, HR-88 bpm, RR-23 bpm, O2-90% on room air, and temp-98.9o. Physical examination reveals (+) JVD, widened split S2, 1+ pitting edema of the legs to the knee, and hepatomegaly. EKG is below.

  1. What does the EKG show?
  2. What is the diagnosis?
  3. What is the next step in evaluation?
  4. What is the definitive diagnostic study for this condition?


  1. The EKG shows numerous findings of chronic pulmonary disease including:
    • Right axis deviation
    • Peaked P-waves (>2.5mm) in inferior leads (II, III, aVF)
    • Clockwise rotation of the heart with delayed R/S transition point
    • Absent R-waves in right precordial leads (V1-V3)
    • Low voltage left sided leads
  2. Given the absence of left sided heart failure and the patients extensive pulmonary history, the presentation is highly suggestive of pulmonary hypertension with cor pulmonale.
    • Cor pulmonale is a complication of pulmonary hypertension and is defined as structural alterations or impaired function of the right ventricle
  3. The next step in evaluation of this patient is getting an echocardiogram to evaluate global heart function and degree of pulmonary hypertension present
  4. The definitive diagnostic study of pulmonary hypertension and cor pulmonale is a right heart catheterization.



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