Which cardiovascular findings suggest pneumothorax?

Updated: Apr 28, 2020
  • Author: Brian J Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC; Chief Editor: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM  more...
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Answer

Cardiovascular findings may include the following:

  • Tachycardia: Most common finding; if heart rate is faster than 135 beats/min, tension pneumothorax likely
  • Pulsus paradoxus
  • Hypotension: Inconsistently present finding; although typically considered a key sign of tension pneumothorax, hypotension can be delayed until its appearance immediately precedes cardiovascular collapse
  • Jugular venous distention: Generally seen in tension pneumothorax; may be absent if hypotension is severe
  • Cardiac apical displacement: Rare finding

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