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Why ISCHEMIA trial conclusions often make us nervous?

Because, we know we can’t follow the lessons from it with true intent, as many of us are near slaves to Invisible Interventional forces in some form or other.

I would think, ISCHEMIA trial in one sense was a wasted effort. We always knew OMT is superior to any sort of PCI in stable CAD  (Backed up with COURAGE /BARI 2D/and of course the deadly exposure by ORBITA )

Anyway, we did ISCHEMIA for the sake of deniers, with huge public funding to prove the truth as truth.

Still, I am sure ISCHEMIA will be looked down, by most elite Intervenionlists. For the rest, it becomes a tough fight with their conscience. 

A recent review on European cardiology review 

Final message 

I don’t know, how many more trials would be required to tell us the same story all over again. Hope we grow enough COURAGE to follow the ISCHEMIA lessons. Let us (try to ) make a full stop on this issue.

 

 

 

 

 

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It was 1912 , Titanic had just sank off the Atlantic . When the world attention was elsewhere , An unassuming young Dr.Herrick J.B silently working in his Michigan lab inquisitively proposed thrombus occluding the coronary artery is the chief culprit in acute myocardial Infarction.It took seven more decades when Davis et all from Glasgow .UK. proved it by doing dramatic angiographic studies soon after STEMI in year 1979.

Now, even after 100 years , we, the confused cardiologists debate endlessly in glamorous global conclaves in exotic locales whether to aspirate these humble looking thrombus, threatening to damage the myocardium with every passing moment !

Why is this controversy ?

My answer

I am failing to understand the concept and the answer is elusive .While every one agrees that thrombus is true culprit, in bulk of the STEMI , still we are not authorised (In an assertive fashion ) either to lyse as first choice or to aspirate as second choice.

It seems vital, thrombus must be tackled vigorously by any means. Drugs,lytics,(Intravenous or Intra-coronary.) by micro and rheolytic catheters .Only documented, flow limiting complex mechanical lesions must be stented. If we are convinced tackling thrombus by mechanical means is problematic (As studies would suggest ) lysis should prevail over aspiration as a routine measure by default isn’t ?

*It’s a been quite a while , the world cardiology community has made it appear thrombolysing a patient who is otherwise eligible for primary PCI ! a “coronary crime*” Ofcourse , I must say , I proudly commit that crime with rewarding results in many MI patients.

*In fact , I would think not promoting or delaying prompt lysis should qualify for the definition.

In the management of STEMI, prehospital lysis followed by a Intensive care in a good coronary care center is best modality.

This doesn’t mean in-hospital lysis is banished. Yes, STEMI is a cardiac emergency , but triaging STEMI patients must be done by scientific means (STEMI risk score) as well with accumulated wisdom .Rush only true emergencies into cath lab. (A best estimate is about 20 % of all STEMI) If we are not able to decide which STEMI will require prompt PCI , it would Imply we need to go back and do once more the basics postings in coronary care of resident days !

An angry counter from a young Interventionist

Only God can tell whether a given patient with STEMI will (or will not) derive maximum benefit from pPCI. We are not yet trained to make that decision by looking at patient and his ECG.So my logic is all STEMIs are equal. I will continue to do emergency angioplasty in all STEMI patients . I expect them blindly to accept all the potential complications arising out of poking the thrombotic milieu in those low risk patients who might have done well with thrombolysis.

Never afraid of challenges. It is like going to war. Casualties are bound to happen.We have enough technology , Imaging , expertise, to tackle all those complex lesions we encounter during primary PCI especially in elderly comorbid patients. We can even do a triple vessel angioplasty , left main etc. Only Yesterday I posted in my nonstop whatsapp group , where I did a dramatic acute angled bifurcation angioplasty for a stable STEMI patient that required a iFR guided jailed side branch assessment and 3d OCT transmitting stunning snaps of fresh thrombus, ending with a semi culotte procedure.The patient is doing well with a Impella 2.5 device and a high frequency ventilator support and my anesthetist has promised me to wean him soon ! I must actually thank his Glo-Health plus Insurance company for clearing the procedure.

An Important tip for complex lesions during STEMI

We need to know there is always a saving grace , if for some reason we couldn’t accomplish PCI due to complexities of the lesion with multiple IRA mimickers. We can always sheepishly thrombolyse these patients inside cath lab . . . a modality just few minutes ago would have been ridiculed with all our vigor to convince the anxious family for a costly Invasive procedure !

Reference

3. Herrick Original paper . https://jamanetwork.com/

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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.

Postamble : 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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