What are cardiovascular findings characteristic of 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 - This is the most common finding. If the heart rate is faster than 135 beats/min, tension pneumothorax is likely
  • Pulsus paradoxus
  • Hypotension - This should be considered as an inconsistently present finding; although hypotension is typically considered a key sign of a tension pneumothorax, studies suggest that hypotension can be delayed until its appearance immediately precedes cardiovascular collapse
  • Jugular venous distention - This is generally seen in tension pneumothorax, although it may be absent if hypotension is severe
  • Cardiac apical displacement - This is a rare finding

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