Parasystole often gets a bad rap. After spending too much time trying to decipher a complex dysrhythmia, you finally succeed only to realize that it is a ventricular parasystole. Why can this be so vexing? Aside from creating some of the most confusing dysrhythmias that must be explained, when all is said and done, parasystole is generally a benign dysrhythymia that rarely requires any specific treatment (although you do need to rule out digitalis toxicity).
As healthcare providers from a number of professions that often require the interpretation of ECGs on the spot, we often hope that the most life-threatening conditions will be easy to identify. Well, sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't. Likewise, simple, benign conditions are often easy to identify - but sometimes they aren't and parasystole falls into that ungrateful category.
For those of you who may need a bit of a refresher on parasystole, I have written a short paper to bring you up to an intermediate level of expertise in diagnosing this confusing ECG finding. You won't see a parasystole every day, but if you read ECGs on a regular basis, you will encounter it. It's not frequent, but it isn't rare, either.
In this paper I discuss ventricular parasystole, although it can also occur in the junctional area and in the atria. After reading the article, take a moment to browse our website and learn about the ECG interpretation courses we offer.