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Archive for July, 2018

A young man aged around 40 years, had a STEMI was promptly thrombolysed in a small hospital located about 40 KM away in the suburbs of my city Chennai. They did an awesome job of saving the patient life and salvaging the myocardium.

Now begins the story . . . one of the non-medical person who is the owner of the hospital has an unfortunate working  business relationship with a frighteningly big nearby hospital  which had signed a memorandum of irresponsible understanding . It demanded any  patient who arrives in the small hospital with MI should be transferred at earliest opportunity to them.

So, an ambulance was arranged  and the patient (with a fairly well reperfused heart ) was shifted  in an emergency fashion . It reached desired destination after nicely chugging along the choked chaotic Chennai evening traffic for 45 minutes.

The guy was taken directly to cath lab through the side doors to perform a second salvage  procedure on a successfully opened IRA. Young cardiology consultants  in designer cath suite welcomed the smiling ACS patient to their posh new lab .Did few rapid radial shots, mumbled among themselves for few minutes,  decided to stent  a minimal LAD lesion for a patient who was in  zero distress with well-preserved LV function.

*The relatives of the patients were curious when they were asked sign a fresh set of consent which elaborately  mentioned about possible life risk during the procedure.

The patient’s wife  was clearly  amused and she pointed out to the superior cardiologists about  the earlier briefing by the Inferior freelance cardiologist who treated him in the previous hospital. She recalled , “I was told in confident terms  that  Initial thrombolysis  has been spectacularly  successful and bulk of the treatment is over and risk of complication has dramatically reduced”.

Then why is this distressing risk taking story again ,  she asked ?

The doctors hurriedly explained ,”this procedure is different. We are sorry to say we have no other option but to add  further risk to you” ! but , its all for your good !

Why should I ?  If the initial lysis is very successful  why do you want to meddle with it again ?

No Madam , you are ill-informed , you can’t talk like that .This is what modern  science  is all about. Leave the professional decision to us. We need to check immediately  whether the lysis is really successful .We can’t rely on the ECG.Further, true success lies in stenting the lesion as we fear the ill-fated site may close again.We are  taught to practice protocols based on standard scientific guidelines. This hospital has highest rating in-terms of quality care. That’s why we got updated ISO 2000  NABH accreditation

The women who is a soft ware engineer was smartly and  scientifically silenced in 5 minutes flat !

Post-amble :

What happened  to the patient then ? (When you fear something it happens is in’t the  Murphy’s law ?)

The apparently asymptotic and comfortable patient had uneventful PCI. A  long drug eluting  stent  was  implanted in recanalized  lesion in LAD with around 30 % narrowing that ended with an innocuous looking diagonal pinch. The procedure was uneventful , however next day he developed some fresh ECG changes and chest pain . The worried team took him for another angio found  stent was patent But , ultimately after a stressful 3 days of stay , some thing went wrong he ended up with new LV dysfunction.He got discharged fine with a caution  that , his stent needs to intensively monitored for the next 1 year since technically he had recurrent ACS !

Lessons we don’t learn from such cases.

When two procedures are done to accomplish the same aim (Reperfusion) , but with  differing success rates, expertise, time ,and unpredictable hazards , the benefits from them may not add together. There is clear knowledge deficit here. Scientific data can never provide fair answers to  these questions  as all real life cofounders can never be recreated in study population.

While we expect 1+1 to become  two in pharmaco-Invasvie strategy  ,one should realise it may end up with  either zero or even  – 2 .

1 -1 = 0

-1 + (-1)=  -2 ?

Learning cardiology from lay persons 

The patient’s shrewd wife threw this question ,

After two modes of re-perfusion done sequentially in my  husband’s  heart ,  at a total cost of Rs4.5Lakhs Why he  is  still left with significant LV dysfunction (Which was  around 40% EF.)

The query raised by the lady appeared much more crucial and logical than the ones discussed in many top-notch live interventional workshops we attend every few months!

As usual , I started mulling over the issue. There is something wrong with the way , we  understand  the pharmaco invasive approach-PIA .You go with it only if  initial pharmacological  approach has failed.

Of Course ,there is one more modality possible ie Pharmaco -Angio strategy where in, you look at the coronary anatomy and take a call ! This sounds good , the only issue is taking a right call ! My experience suggests wrong calls are the rule and  exceptions are rare. Then a whole new issue erupts about all those non IRA lesions

Final message

So till we have gain complete self-control over our evolved ignorance and evolving knowledge , it is better to follow this proposed  funny new ACS algorithm called “Pharmaco -non invasive” approach (PNIA)  in asymptomatic ACS patients  who have had apparently successful lysis.

*Please note, Incidentally  PNIA actually  refers to simple good old traditional stand alone thrombolysis.

Counter point

No one can deny Interventional cardiology carries a risk of untoward effects.Don’t blow this out of proportion. Do you know, how many lives have been saved by routine Pharmaco -Invasive approach ?

I am not sure , my experience may be limited.Let me ask the readers. Is routine PIA is warranted in all asymptomatic , successfully lysed STEMIs ?

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Ischemic MR is a critical entity in determining the long-term survival in post MI patients as well as dilated cardiomyopathy. (Originally described  by J. H. Philips Ann Intern Med. 1963;59(4):508-520)

The mechanism of MR  can really be complex .We know mitral apparatus consists of  six components.The sub valvular apparatus plays a key role. LV  free wall especially the inferior and lateral segments which subtends the two papillary muscle has a critical role in maintaining the mitral valve competency .

There seems to me a complex mechano -anatomical behavior of subvalvular structures in progressive LV dysfunction especially so in ischemic cardiomyopathy. The LV size, shape eccentricity in attachment of leaflets to papillary muscle is (Simply called altered geometry ) .The intraventricular desynchrony ,disproportionate  LV dysfunction also make MR more likely .

Beware of a striking  physiological irony in ischemic MR.

While infero basal free wall dysfunction occurs commonly with  LCX/RCA Infarct and  is commonly associated with Ischemic of MR .There is something unique happens . . . when the infarct is larger and involves the head of the papillary muscle .Yes, it attenuates the severity of MR.(Friendly Infarct extension!) The mechanism is , papillary muscle dysfunction  tends to prevent apical tensor effect leading to   improved tethering of leaflets .This may appear a blessing in terms of  prevention of acute pulmonary edema. This also explains why some patients are as cool as cucumbers and lie flat comfortably with silent lungs in spite of severe LV dysfunction .The LV is too weak it doesn’t  have contractile energy to generate acute  severe MR.

Here is an illustration  from circulation .Note: The Infarct extends to pap muscle head, the MR is arrested.

Image courtesy : Emmanuel Messas J. Luis Guerrero, Mark D. Handschumacher, et all  Paradoxic Decrease in Ischemic Mitral Regurgitation With Papillary Muscle Dysfunction Insights From Three-Dimensional and Contrast Echocardiography With Strain Rate Measurement Circulation. 2001; 104: 1952-1957

Further debates 

Papillary muscle dysfunction may be protective against progressive MR.Still ,sudden papillary muscle rupture result in flash pulmonary edema and death is imminent . How ? Complete rupture  causes flail free-floating leaflet that prolapse into LA and result in free MR.While simple dysfunction without flail leaflet is less likely to cause MR . The key determinant seems to be the net force that keeps the alignment of mitral,leaflet at annular level.

In this context , we also realise the impact of primary PCI on the  regression of  Ischemic MR is not uniformly positive.Reasons not clear.

Final message

Ischemic MR  due to LV free wall infarct is a near knockout punch , that may determine the ultimate ACS  outcome. However , a simultaneous lesser punch ( by a friendly devil ! ) on the adjacent head of papillary muscle neutralises the effect of Initial Injury. While such non academic scripts are enjoyable , we are still a long way away to understand this anatomical ,hemodynamic conundrum.

Reference

1.

mechanism of ischemic mitral regurgitation papillary muscle dysfunction

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One may recall some stunningly simple facts from our high school biology classes that every living cell needs energy on a moment to moment basis.

Blood vessels which take care of the vital organ’s energy supply also need the same blood (Nutrients /Oxygen) for its own survival.

Coronary arteries carry about 250 ml of blood every minute , 24/7 supplying ATP enriched fuel to the heart.

Who is feeding these delicate vessels which carry on this life-sustaining work ?

It is easier to assume the three layers of the blood vessels which are bathed with blood would never suffer from Ischemia. Reality is different .Blood vessels do suffer from Ischemia.We do have evidence medial necrosis, plaque instablity , fibrous cap disruptions may be due to a vascular insult or vessel wall energy deficit.

The much debated entities like endothelial erosion and dysfunction are often atributed to mechanical stress , sympathetic spike , or smoke . This may be a virtual guess as no one knows what causes these. It could well be a patchy Ischemia due to endothelial perfusion defect from within or a vasavasoral dysfunction from outside. Coronary ulcers some times mimic gastric ones and guess the cause ! yes it is mucosal ischemia !) *Ischemic ulcers in GI tracts can be common (Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax. 1993 Jun 15;82(24):709-13)

How does coronary artery gets it blood supply ?

Busy cardiologists have no time to worry about nourishment of the coronary arteries . . . even as they play inside with unlimited arms and ammunition.We leave it to our basic scientists.

So , how does coronary artery gets its blood supply ?

The easiest answer is, blood supply to coronary artery is taken care by a vast network of micro vessels called vasa vasorum(VV) . Of course, the inner layers of Intima and media do get some nourishment by the flowing blood as mentioned earlier.No one really knows the quantum of blood flow that perfuse within the planes of coronary artery.

*By the way , does the vasa -vasorum comes from extra-coronary source or from the same parent vessel ? (I think the answer is both ! will try to find out!)

It should be noted Vasa vasorum is well developed only in large arteries. VV has one more important function ie to drain the metabolic excreta from the walls of blood vessels. This function could never be taken lightly as failure to do so will result in vascular wall edema in acute setting or thickening In chronic setting.

Does coronary arterial tree goes for necrosis in STEMI ?

There is some evidence , when acute total occlusion happens in an epicardial vessel , not only the myocardium is ischemic , the entire distal coronary vascular tree becomes vulnerable. The ischemic time and resistance of coronary macro vs micro vasculature is currently not known. It is expected to show significant variation . We know ,one of the important mechanism of no re-flow following PCI is due to microvascular damage(Non thrombotic)

Many times we fail to realise myocardial viablity and micro-vasculature integirty are two different things. ! This questions the concept of reperfusion based on the status of viable myocardium alone.This we have experienced in many patients as myocardial viability doesn’t guarantee you full recovery from LV dysfunction as microvasculature may recovery may lag behind or never restored (Permanent vasa-vasoral damage ?)

What is our knowledge base about exclusive pathology of coronary vasa vasorum ?

Do you know, ectasia, arteritis, aneurysms and external band like compression of coronary artery all are related to some sort of vasa vasoral dysfunction ? We are not yet clear whether atherosclerosis really involves the vasa vasorum.(Takayasu does it for sure ! )

What is the relationship between vasa vasorum and coronary collaterals ?

It seems to me , many of bridging collaterals are nothing but extension of vasa vasorum and ultimately arise from epicardial coronary collaterals. (Some youngster’s take up this topics for research)

Why is high pressure post dilatation a double-edged sword ?

It’s often thought , larger the lumen its better. Need not be. These are all some questions which we don’t have an answer.

What is the radial pressure exerted by coronary stents on coronary trans -arterial perfusion ?

Does coronary artery go for Ischemic necrosis with high pressure Inflations ? As such there is no published evidence . By the time we wait for published evidence enough number of coronary arteries might get damaged. So try to use common sense .

Relationship between delayed Mal-apposition & vasa vasoral damage

It is very likely ,the so-called endo-leak which is quiet prevalent in aortic interventions is could be seen in coronary arteries. We are not recognising it. It could be same as Intramural hematoma in certain subsets.

Meanwhile, self expanding stents with good radial strength has made a come back .While it may prevent a mal-apposition ,has a potential to stress the vessel wall (Radially) and in the process interfering with perfusion.

 

Does Vasa vasorum promotes Atherosclerosis or negates it ?

hehttps://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/701571

 

The irony is, while de-novo vasa vasorum is the life line for coronary arterial nutrition, neo-vascularisation is problematic .Then how to selectively promote good vasa vasoral growth and avoid the pathological network that promotes adventitial nodular degeneration ? This is were the curious basic scientists and casual cath lab guys need to interact.What is positive remodelling ? (Often referred to the famous concept of Glagov ) How can we promote it to maintain good luminal diameter inspite of large burden of atherosclerosis by manipulating the vasavasorum.

 

Final message

Cardiologists are ahead of others in many cutting edge technology. There is no two opinions about it. Who can repair a live beating heart without stoping it for a moment ? Still, there is a whole lot of coronary Ignorance waiting to be explored. Blood supply to coronary artery is one such area to be decoded.This will have larger implications as Vascular healing , plaque survival and growth depends upon vasa vasoral integrity as well as neo vascularisation.

While , metallic management of CAD seems to be the order of the day as it tends to give an instant fix .My guess would be medical sense would ultimately prevail one day with controlled vascular aging and natural ,pharmacological ,biological repair of cells will prevail over temporary patch work in cath labs.

Reference

What is the role of newer Imaging and OCT in visualising Vasa vasorum ?

It is going to open up new avenues in our coronary vision.

Vasavasorum review article

(Kensuke Nishimiya European Cardiology Review 2017;12(2):121–3)

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