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Confusion in the Cardiology Wing


Sarah K. Thomas
Honors College
Texas Tech University
Breanna N. Harris
Biological Sciences
Texas Tech University


In this interrupted case study, students assume the role of a first-year resident whose first patient arrives by ambulance with a suspected myocardial infarction (MI) in progress. Students consider which clinical tests would be helpful to confirm the diagnosis of MI and then review patient data and lab results. Next, the resident meets a second patient, a woman presenting with classic MI symptoms. The patient is admitted, and tests are administered; however, this time results do not come back clearly matching a typical heart attack. Designed to teach students about myocardial infarction, the case provides basics on the identification and treatment of this in a hospital setting, and introduces students to takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Prior to using the case, students should have general knowledge of cardiac function and be familiar with a typical ECG trace, but they do not need to have extensive background. The case was developed for an anatomy and physiology course, but it could also be used in nursing, kinesiology, sports medicine, pathophysiology, or other introductory-level biology courses.


  • Define and list signs and symptoms of a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • List, briefly describe, and explain the utility of several cardiology testing procedures.
  • Describe and identify the typical biomarkers of a heart attack.
  • Compare and contrast a typical myocardial infarction with takotsubo cardiomyopathy.


Cardiology; myocardial infarction; MI; heart attack; takotsubo cardiomyopathy; broken heart syndrome; ECG; heart

Topical Areas


Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Medicine (General)  |   Nursing  |   Physiology  |   Science (General)  |   Zoology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The handout below, “Cardiology Diagnoses, Tests, and Procedures Primer,” is used with Part II of the case study handout.

  myo_infarc_primer.pdf (~614 KB)

Answer Key

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The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  • An Osmosis Video: Heart Attack Explained
    This very good, brief video provides an overview of the basics of myocardial infarction. Running time: 12:39 min. Produced by, 2018.
  • Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (short version)
    This video provides a very quick description of broken heart syndrome or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Running time: 1:58 min. Produced by Celine Yoo, Molei Fu, and Sumin Lee, 2014.