A review of "Cardiac Dysrhythmias"

by Rod Ward, - 25.8.98

This program from the department of Pharmacology, University of Leeds, was produced by the pharma-CAL-ogy consortium funded by HEFCE, SHEFCE, HEFCW & DENI under the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme.


The package can be used either for primary presentation of material, for revision or as a basis for workshop/tutorial discussions. I would suggest it is best used by single or pairs of students as a revision or self study aid.

The aims of the package are described as providing the student with;

  1. an understanding of the basic electrophysiology of the heart and of the normal ECG
  2. a simple introduction to the classification of cardiac dysrythmias
  3. a knowledge of the classification and pharmacology of anti-dyrhythmic drugs
  4. an understanding of the treatment of the commoner dysrythmias

Although a few screens of introductory level material were available, students very quickly got into complex and unusual arrhythmia's and their management, meaning that this package would probably not be suitable for students on pre-registration courses. However the content would probably be suitable for students on ENB 124 or other coronary related post basic courses.

There are 6 modules;

  1. Electrophysiology of the heart
  2. Classification of dysrhythmias
  3. Classification of anti-dysrhythmic drugs
  4. Atrial dysrythmias
  5. Re-entrant dysrhythmias
  6. Ventricular dysrythmias

Each module is accompanied by a formative assessment.

Users are advised to work through the modules in order.

Extensive use is made of ECG rhythm strips, diagrams and pop-up boxes for further information. The level seems complex for most students. I asked a colleague who teaches ECG recognition to take a look at the program and he commented that it was far beyond the level on initial or pre-registration students and would only be suitable for those on specialist post-registration courses for those working in coronary care or intensive care units. He also commented that it was good that drug names and terminology were English rather than American.

Also available from any screen are a drug reference, glossary and a map of the package.

For many of the dysrythmias sections are available for; Causes, Treatment, ECG, summary and the "Sicilian Gambit Approach" which is a classification system, new to me.


The contents of the program appear as a window on the screen (which could not be enlarged to full screen), with pull down menus for further options, and a title bar explaining where the users is in the program.

The main navigation tools appear at the bottom and include a link to main menu and section menus, and arrows to move forwards and backwards throughout a module. Also available is amp of the sections - however this is not clickable.

A limited tutorial on how to use the navigation tools is available.

Within each modules a variety of screen designs are employed, this does give variety, however I feel that as a result users may not explore all of the features available. In addition, requiring a continue button to be clicked before moving on from a section may limit users willingness to explore further.


This program was supplied on 4 floppy discs, containing 18 files totalling 11.4 Mb. Installation was easy, however it is necessary to have "Authorware Runtime" - which was supplied on a separate disc.

Overall Impressions

This could be a useful workshop or revision aid for students working in specialist coronary care units or undertaking related education. Installation was fairly straightforward and operation rapid. The content appears to be correct and uses UK terminology, however the interface is not always intuitive, and time spent figuring out which button to press could detract from its learning value.

Contact details

Ian Hughes,
Dept of Pharmacology,
University of Leeds,
Leeds LS2 9JT
Tel: +44 (0)113 233 4313
Fax: +44 (0)113 233 4331
Email: i.e.hughes@leeds.ac.uk
WWW: http://www.tltp.ac.uk/tltp/catalogue/phase2/proj76.htm 

Any commet to Rod@RodSpace.co.uk
Page created: 25.8.98
Last updated; 30.8.03