Archive for the ‘acute coronary syndrome’ Category

Some of the noise bites from a busy cath lab after a  mid noon angioplasty

         Oh’  that  looks bad , whats that projecting !

There is some haziness too ,

            Make sure its not a flap,

  Better to do IVUS or should I OCT ?

           Shall I  post dilate with NCB ?

Should we cover with  another stent ?

           I think we can manage with Tirofiban or Reopro 

Call the chief ! suggested a first year resident,that seemed to be the most reasonable noise bite among all .Yes, the final command came from the chief cardiologist after a 10 second glance over the workstation ,”Guys,  forget it , . . its acceptable  pinching, DAPT will take care of it , just ensure adequate ACT till night , put the next case . . .on table” !

That’s fairly common chat session in any high volume cath centres (Which ended abruptly  in this case with the chief’s uttering)

Does any body know  what the chief meant by  the term pinching ?

  • Is it the  pinch of Intimal fold ?
  • Is it pinch of plaque ?
  • Is it a flap ?
  • Is it a plaque prolapse within the strut ?
  • Or just a evaginated thrombus
  • A subintimal calcium speck ?
  • A longitudinal stent deformation?

Any one knows the histology ? Is there any natural history  study of such pinching ?

Iam afraid no one knows . But common sense tell us it can be anything  between a totally benign entity to  Imminent nidus  for an acute stent thrombosis , depending upon the patient’s destiny and physician’s luck !

How does one make a decision in such an uncertain situation ?

The decision to leave that pinching is taken by any  cardiologist  based on his past experience or  Inexperience or both. Some do IVUS/OCT , many don’t . Whatever the decision  ( empirical or scientific ) its  going to be tentative  and  outcome is any body’s guess.

Final message

Coronary arterial pinching is a dangerous cath lab slang used exclusively by expert Interventional cardiologists , often after a hurried PCI ! It may sound  innocuous .To label a protruding plaque as a “safe pinch”demands heavy courage that is an essential requirement  for a successful Interventional  cardiologist , which most of them are blessed with !


1.No Reference as such :There is no specific study about histology of coronary pinching  .Though , IVUS and OCT data are available for various post PCI shadows , it never addresses the issue of pinching specifically as no one is clear about what they mean by it.  Hence ,we are planning to decode this long pending mystery with our own  PINCH-iVUS  study.

2.This article from Circulation Imaging  new generation IVUS could reveal  histology of pinching


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Professional competence is defined as doing things, always in the Interest of patients. It’s generally believed small hospitals are not competent enough to treat cardiac emergencies . . .Do you agree with that ? No, Its largely a myth . Do you know there is a absolute  lack of proficiency  threatening to plague our country’s coronary care system. ? It’s the professional  Incompetence by the space age, star hospitals (mis)managed by masters of the noble business. None (am I right ?) of this hospitals either monitor or publish the outcome of their treatment.

Backed by pseudo scientific data , amplified by unrealistic expectations of ill Informed patients , some  hospitals are avoiding Initial emergency treatment of acute MI  , instead they waste time ( load DAPT ofcourse !) in securing the finance  for the costly Invasive procedures or refer them out of their premises if they can’t afford for it.In the ensuing emotional and financial melee many of the ill-fated patients lose vital  time window of thrombolysis as well ! and carry risk of fatality or damaged myocardium.

Every stake holder in the current  coronary care system simply assume the enforced modality  must be far superior because they administer the most modern and costly treatment suggested by few high intensity cared clinical trials originating from west. The wisemen who run the corporate hospitals  never realise medical competence and outcome is not entirely defined by science. Their primitive cognition wouldn’t allow to think beyond business equations either.

Please believe me, time and again, I have witnessed patients reaching Government hospitals  after being shunned away by  big (Some times even medium sized )  hospitals who boast themself only as PCI enabled care. Even if they want to lyse they stock only the Tenekteplace .

I think tragedy  is a lesser word to describe the scenario , where a distressed family is trying to arrange  for a Rs30,000 shot of Tenekteplace when thirty times cheaper still equally efficacious (Rs 1000 Streptokinase)  is concealed from their visibility .The Govt should urgently look into instances of large private hospitals avoiding Govt insurance scheme patients  even in  cardiac emergencies ! To label our poor patients as unaffordable ones is a outright misnomer, rather its the rich hospitals that are “not affordable” to lose profit and treat our countrymen , in a cost effective manner is the reality !

Who is Poor ? You decide.

Two forbidden things in coronary care

 1.Cajoling  and manoeuvring a distressed  family for a primary PCI as a routine treatment  hyping its beneficial effect and underplaying the true advantages of thrombolysis in largely technical jargons is the current norm in most coronary care units.

2.Another issue is , after confused confabulations with the duty medical officer,  if a rare patient family  choose the option of thrombolysis , comes the next googly*.  Many noble minded hospitals do not stock the low-cost and equally efficacious thrombolytic agent and offering  only the costly option to the anxious families when the myocardium is on fire.

Hospitals that  practice these two coronary protocols  need to be shamed and labeled as  “Coronary Incompetent  ” In spite of having 24/7 cath labs.  (Realise , they are just like  any remote rural hospitals , at least  the later can’t be faulted  as they don’t  withhold  a  reperfusion strategy  !)

Final message

I think , mindless proliferation of cath lab based cardiac care , which follow this theme , ie  “Thrombolysis incapable but PCI capable “ are  biggest threat to coronary care in our country ! For the best coronary care for any country ,what we need is efficient prehospital thrombolysis team .We have conveniently forgotten the great study of CAPTIM wherein the ambulance drivers replicated the same effect of primary PCI performed by highly trained cardiologists in modern labs.

In India,  primary health centers which is within  few km reach of entire population  can be designated as static ambulance equivalents  with basic resuscitation facility . If a multipurpose health worker can be trained to lyse, with remote supervision that will accomplish  90 % of what the cathlab guys can achieve ! Selective shifting is suffice.

Postample :  Ofcourse, not doing  pPCI for high risk or complicated STEMI is unscientific and we need to have proper consenting and referring frame-work for such patients.

Counter point : One of my colleagues asked me ? Why do I enjoy attacking the established scientific practices ?  May be I have a problem , yes, but  I think in a  true medical democracy we have right to debate anything , absolute truth is a ongoing journey !



*Googly:  An unplayable ball delivered to a batsman in the game of  cricket.

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This paper was presented as a poster (Not good enough for  oral ! ) in the just concluded CSI 2016  (Cardiological society of India ) Annual conference at Kochi, India.


What constitutes successful  Primary PCI ?   A proposal to include “ LV dysfunction”  as an  essential  criteria !

A  series of breakthrough technologies  in drugs , devices, techniques has revolutionised the management of STEMI in modern times.This  includes various formats of heparin , antiplatelet agents thrombolytics  and coronary interventions.Of all these, primary PCI is considered to be the greatest thing to happen in STEMI care.

The success of primary PCI is currently defined as diameter stenosis less than 30% and TIMI 3 flow on final angiography without procedural complication. True success of reperfusion essentially lies  in the salvage of myocardium and in the prevention of LV dysfunction. In real world scenario we often find a paradox , ie Inspite of  successful pPCI by current definition a subset of patients suffer from significant  LV dysfunction. Surprisingly, LV dysfunction has  never been included in the definition of successful primary PCI .


In this context we did a reversed cohort  study  of patients with significant LV dysfunction (<40%) following primary PCI to find out possible factors contributing to LV dysfunction.10 patients who had LV dysfunction inspite of successful primary PCI were the subjects of the study. Patients with late PCI  beyond 12  hours were excluded .Echocardioraphy had been done at discharge and 2 weeks after the procedure to assess LV function.

TIMI  3  flow  has been  documented in all  patients at the time of primary PCI.6 patients had undergone pPCI within 6 hours.4 had it by 12 hours. 7 patients had a smooth , fast  pPCI as described by standard protocol.Of these,  2 patients had LV dysfunction inspite of TIMI 3 flow established early.7 patients 3 had complex angioplasty with no reflow managed subsequently.One had deferred stenting after 4 days for IRA.Non IRA lesion were also  tackled in two.

We also confirmed  there is no linear no correlation  between TIMI flow and  subsequent LV function .This becomes vital as time and again we are seeing PCI reports with successful TIMI 3 flow only to find  weeks later  thinned scarred ventricle. Time to reperfuse with anticipated and unanticipated procedural delay  was also  a critical  factor.

However, its clear the  incidence of significant LV dysfunction inspite of  timely, and apparently smooth  PCI is real .Why this happens is beyond the current reasoning. A scientific basis for  individual myocardial sensitivity to ischemic time is yet to be found. (Dynamic host dependent time window ?)

Meanwhile , It seems prudent , we should awake to a harsh reality of practicing coronary care  with a seemingly incomplete criteria for success of pPCI . Its proposed,  an  acceptable levels of  “LV dysfunction at discharge ” (It could be > 50 %) as an essential criteria  to define the success of pPCI  .Custodians of STEMI care should  immediately rectify this glaring omission. This will dramatically impact the current  outcome analysis of STEMI and help Improve the quality of care.

Conference bulletins


E-PosterPresentationSat10thDec csi cohin 2016

Session – Preview 

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DAPT -Dual anti-platelet therapy has become  a standard in many clinical situations of CAD.There has been significant confusion about ,Indications, best combination, duration of DAPT, withholding of DAPT, conversion to MAPT (mono) etc.The  JACC september 2016 issue  brings much needed clarity  on this issue.

Link to key summary from NEJM journal watch.


Full text guideline

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Its a funny world out there in medical science, more so in the field of cardiology ! A new treatment comes as a revolutionary breakthrough , lives merrily for a while . . . only to blink , few years down the lane . . . and  make a sheepish exit !

Here comes some important knowledge from Rome , European society of cardiology conference 2016 .Its the much expected NORSTENT study from Norway,with a largest number (9013 patients comparing one to one BMS vs DES ) with up to  6 year follow up data ,exposing the limitations and the possible false superiority of DES over bare metal stents .It almost concludes there is no meaningful preference for DES over BMS in obstructive CAD in terms of survival .(ACS included)


For over a decade  billions of dollars were drained with a hyped scientific concept of coating the stent with drugs to prevent restenosis . DES , was able to  effectively pull the BMS down and out by statistics. This, in spite of the strong concern of DES, interfering with normal healthy endothelisation of the stented segment which resulted in unexpected sudden DES related thrombosis. The power of commerce is huge , it can  finish of a useful modality,if available cheap.This happens even in a lesser developed country like India.

I guess,the obituary for BMS is already written in most part of the world. (I can vouch for it my city Chennai !) Now that NORSTENT  has come out, though belatedly, I  wonder any company  wants to manufacture BMS in a big way ! Can it infuse a fresh life into BMS which I believe is  surprisingly  sitting alive in it’s  graveyard .

     Baremetal stents where are you ? My patients need you !

Counter  thought and a rebuttal !

Many will say my interpretation of the NORSTENT study is wrong and its a indecent attack on a proven scientific concept of DES which is the only way to reduce restenosis rate.

But , what is the big deal in preventing restenosis,if DES  doesn’t save significant lives ?

The argument that DES reduces repeat revascularisation is largely irrelevant as it amount to only  angiographic gratification and  reduced threshold  for intervention  and ultimately imply inappropriate re-intervention in the BMS group.(Only Clinical restenosis ie symptomatic, flow limiting stenosis   require attention .We need that specific data from  NORSTENT . )

Don’t believe blindly in  whatever is written here .Read for yourself and decide ! The NORSTENT from Norway published in NEJM August 2016 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1607991

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Less than a century ago an easy chair  was enough to manage this most important medical emergency of mankind. Of course, at that time mortality of STEMI was estimated to be around 30%.We have since pushed the in-hospital death rate down to less than 10 %  and its around 5-8% currently.(*The lifeless chairs were able to save 70 lives is a different story!)

Heparin , thrombolytic agents, critical coronary care has helped us to achieve this , of course It must be admitted primary PCI also played a small role (at best 1 % ) in our fight against this number one killer.

Now, why not combine  both lysis and PCI ?

The concept of PIA (Pharmaco Invasive approach) came into vogue  primarily for two reasons.

1.If thrombolysis and  pPCI are powerful strategies by individual merits why not combine both and achieve double the benefit ?

2. Since pPCI is going to be a logistical nightmare in most points of care and we can’t afford to lose time . So, let us lyse first and consider PCI later !

Unfortunately medical science is not math .One plus one in medicine is rarely two !

Though , it looks attractive , Pharmaco invasive approach  has its own troubles.Fortunately , most of them are man-made, few are beyond our knowledge though.

Following general rules  may help us

  • STEMI  should ideally managed by early thrombolysis (or PCI) in all deserving patients.
  • Don’t wait for PCI if you think , there will be delay or reduced expertise and poor track record of the center in this modality.
  • Pharmaco invasive  therapy is not a default in all STEMI .Do good quality , monitored  lysis , (Not necessarily new generation thrombolytic .(I prefer one hour sustained thrombolytic regimen , not the hit or miss bolus) .As a learned cardiologist we need to assess individual patients according to the type and risk of MI.Its not wise to blindly follow the guidelines ,because these guidelines , though based on evidence never answers a query in a single patient perspective !

The key “branch points”  in decision making  after lysis

  • Invasive strategy  should begin within one hour if the patient has failed  thrombolysis and has developed any mechanical issues.( Mind you, LVF requires good medical stabilization .Rushing  such patients to cath lab without application of mind can be disastrous )
  • If the Initial  lysis is excellent and the patient is asymptomatic  one need not proceed with invasive limb at all.(A significant chunk of apparently failed lysis by ECG are asymptomatic and comfortable , these are patients require delicate assessment regarding further intervention. )
  • If the MI is large and the clinical  stability is “not confirmed” one may  proceed urgently within 24 h.
  • In any case there is no role for invasive approach after 24 hours* Unless fresh ischemia  suspected to come from IRA or  non IRA.
  • Having  said that, there are many centers that do a diagnostic  angiogram alone just prior to discharge  (48-72h) for risk stratification and then take a genuine call for a possible PCI or  CABG. In my opinion it appears a sensible strategy , though a non invasive stress  test pre/post discharge can even avoid that  coronary angiogram !

One issue with Rescue PIA

Though by current definition  PIA is to be done  3-24 hours , don’t wait for the 4th hour if you have recognized a failed thrombolysis earlier than three hours.( Ofcourse , as the gap between P and I gets too narrowed it may  carry some adverse  effects witnessed in routine facilitated PCI -Refer FINESSE study ) Similarly,there need not be a blanket ban on PCI beyond 24 hours if residual ischemia is active.

Final message

PIA is a dynamic  coronary  re -perfusion strategy . Nothing is fixed in science. . The optimal gap between Pharmaco and invasive strategy  can be anywhere between  1 hour to “Infinitely deferred” depending upon individual risk perception and wisdom of the treating cardiologist.





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Scientific cardiology has forced us to believe ACS management must be catheter based and all others are inferior  and  those who pursue the later , carry a risk of  being labelled as unethical in near future. However ,experienced cardiologists will know  where the truth lies.

Now,in the interventional cardiology board rooms  there is a big  debate going on regarding the value of early total revascualrisation in STEMI with multivessel CAD.Suddenly , every lesion looks suspect ( Ex,current or future culprit ! ) and all stentable lesion are stented  either in an emergency or semi emergency fashion (The new age post PCI dialogue goes something like this “I have tackled one culprit , other one seems to hide in LAD ,  we will arrest it  next 48 hours or so* ? ( This is the concept of  deferred or staged  non-IRA stenting )

*Ironically it brings   one more dubious therapeutic time window in ACS !

ptca ira non ira multivesssel pci

The recent  studies like  PRAMI, PRIMULTY ,CvLPRIT are trying to find out an answer to this issue  and suggest acute multivessel PCI may be  good strategy. Some of them advocate a FFR guided non IRA intervention , knowing fully well micro-circulatory bed is completely altered by the index acute thrombotic event.( Mind you , for FFR,  we need to induce maximum hyperemia with Adenosine in a highly varying local autonomic milleu within the thrombus clogged capillary network)

Final message ( Intentionally biased !)

Till we learn or unlearn  it is vital to go with conventional wisdom.Don’t pursue a random hunt for coronary culprits in acute phase of  STEMI.Many of them are innocents and likely to suffer in cross fire.Tender coronary arteries need some rest,peace and time to heal thyself  . Just keep away , they will definitely say big  thanks with folded hands !


1.Gershlick AH, Khan J, Kelly DJ, et al. Randomized Trial of Complete Versus Lesion-Only Revascularization in Patients Undergoing Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention for STEMI and Multivessel Disease: The CvLPRIT Trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(10):963-972.

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