- A prospective study was undertaken at a regional trauma unit (RTU) to determine the significance of cardiac complications in patients with blunt chest trauma. Radionuclide angiographic (RNA) imaging was performed as soon as possible after admission and Holter monitors were applied for 72 hours. Routine investigations included serial cardiac enzyme measurements and 12-lead electrocardiograms. Dysrhythmias were classified and ventricular dysrhythmias were stratified by ventricular ectopic score (VES) as ventricular tachycardia (4) or greater than 100 premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)/hour (3). Three hundred twelve patients were entered into the study. Analysis of dysrhythmias revealed 18 patients with a VES of 4 and nine patients with a VES of 3; there were no serious consequences. The most significant dysrhythmia as a marker of outcome was atrial fibrillation (n = 9); five of these patients died, but all of associated noncardiac injuries. A review of abnormal RNAs revealed that all associated mortalities were attributed to noncardiac injuries. A review of postmortem reports and hospital records revealed that no deaths were attributed to cardiac failure or dysrhythmia. Thus the incidence of clinically significant dysrhythmias or other cardiac complications resulting from blunt trauma to the heart may be overestimated.