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Archive for the ‘evidence based cardiology’ Category

An Interaction in IMCU

How is Mr. K, who was shifted from ward 102 ?

Yes sir, It was acute decompensated LV failure, Patient was in impending pulmonary edema. In fact, he developed. He is fine now,

How did he come around? He was too sick I thought.

“Just pushed 60 mg Frusemide IV, luckily he also had good BP, so with an infusion of NTG, titrated Carvedilol a little bit, he came out nicely. I guess it is Ischemic DCM”.

“Good, You have done a nice job”

“Don’t make me embarrassed sir. It is such a routine in our ER. 

To make him curious, I asked “Which drug do you think that saved him”?

“Obviously, Frusemide sir. He was frothing out. I thought he will require a ventilator. It was a matter of 20 minutes, sort of flushing out 500 ml lung fluid through the urine”.

“No, you are wrong. As a professor and cardiologist, I need to tell you this. Diuretics never save lives heart failure. 

Sir, I guess, you are not kidding. Does this statement apply to acute heart failure? We have saved 100s of lives with Frusemide,  both in acute, acute on chronic, and even in chronic cardiac failures with metolazone.

Hmmm, I agree with you my dear student, Frusemide has saved not hundreds but lakhs of lives in the past decades in all forms of heart failure. It continues to do this fabulous job even now. But, don’t say it in exams or scientific forums. It has no evidence to show survival benefits. You can’t credit a drug without evidence. Also realize, saving lives by unscientific means by a cheap generic is not something to boast upon. We need the blessings of RCTs, or Kaplans Mayer curves, or Forrest blobbograms. Unfortunately . that is the current principle of practice of medicine.

But sir, who is preventing whom, to do such studies. Why they are not comparing diuretics one to one with these modern drugs of inotropes, calcium modulators, or SGLTis, etc? 

I am not sure. My guess is, there are no good friends in the cardiac failure research community for this old warrior drug. 

Loop diuretics 

Till 1960s, toxic mercurial compunds was the only option to drain water in heart failures. The Invention of  Na+/K+ /Cl channel blocker Frusemide, ( In the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle) is the single most important event, that changed the way we manage cardiac failure in both acute and chronic settings. Still, the current evidence creators hesitate to call it a life-saving drug,

The meteoric rise of SGLT-2 Inhibitors 

Meanwhile, a few micrometers down the hairpin bend of Henle, drugs called phlorizin are doing wonders. These Apple root barks derivatives were since been invaded by Glyflozins Industry. They are made into a powerful glycosuric drug that drags water out of the system along with glucose. This seems to be the biggest revolution in cardiac pharmacology ever since DaVinci drew the heart and Harvey made it functional. I think we need a supercomputer to count the number of papers and analyze the data from Dapa & Empaglyflosin. It is now concluded officially, as an evidence-based life saver in HF.

I asked one Gen X Pharma-geek, “How do these magic drugs perform this miracle in heart failure”? He said beamingly, It is not merely Glyco-diuresis, as you academicians think, it is some mystery action from heaven, still not decoded. What a revelation I thought.

Continuing Medical Education: Choosing the correct path is never easy!

Final message 

Loop diuretics are powerful drugs that aid the failing heart to reduce both pre and after-load. It is a fact, indiscriminate use of these drugs leads to some electrolytes and metabolic issues. But, hiding behind a hazy and shaky evidence base, and trying to ridicule these life-sustaining drugs, is the height of senselessness in cardiac failure literature.

Reference 

(There is a tug of war of evidence between benefits and risks. I guess someone will bring out the truth, which is written clearly on the walls)

1. Chris J Kapelios, Konstantinos Malliaras, Elisabeth Kaldara, Stella Vakrou, John N Nanas, Loop diuretics for chronic heart failure: a foe in disguise of a friend?, European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 54–63https://doi.org/10.1093/ehjcvp/pvx020

2.Faris R, Flather M, Purcell H, Henein M, Poole-Wilson P, Coats A. Current evidence supporting the role of diuretics in heart failure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Cardiol. 2002 Feb;82(2):149-58. doi: 10.1016/s0167-5273(01)00600-3. PMID: 11853901.

Postamble

It is to be noted,Eplerenone (EPHESUS trial )  & Finerinone  (FIDELIO-DKD trial) are new generation  K + sparing diuretics and mineralocorticoid antagonists may have better cardioprotection in cardiac failure.(Part of RAAS blockade)

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Is there a solution?

As I understand, we don’t have any. Maybe, we can try this.  No way, I can prevent it from appearing ridiculous for the mainstream scientists.

Truths often lie silently  buried deep (many times intentionally). They definitely deserve an intellectual resuscitation beyond the dirty world of data and evidence. Further, why should experience be considered as enemy of evidence ?

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There are about 30000 scientific journals and two million papers every year. Of which 5000 are in medicine (Ref : World university news) 

Now, take a deep breath and answer this query. What do you think is the most important aspect of any scientific or medical research in the current era ?

Final message

With due respect to all researchers, What do you think is the most important aspect of any scientific or medical research?  This query is very much relevant today. All components are equally important is an easy way out. But, that’s not the pathway that will take us to the truth.

Postamble  

Having answered the above question, no way, we can escape from this question –“Which could be the least important component “?

I guess you got it right. In the current scenario, my choice is striking and is sandwiched in the middle of the 7 responses..

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Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is being projected as a scientific God’s secret specialty. Physicians who don’t follow EBM are considered unfit non-professionals. Presumably, in pursuit of truth, all those glamorous official bodies in cardiology bring out umpteen number of protocols, guidelines, advisories, and recommendations.

The blueprint for EBM

We have the famous 3 levels of recommendation backed up by different levels of evidence. Many of us trust these as the jury’s final verdict for most illnesses in cardiology. I would like to bring one particular issue about this hugely popular model of EBM. It is about one specific class of Indication referred to as 2b. The other day, there was an intense argument for an ICD in a young HCM patient and CRT in DCM based on this 2b stuff. Kindly request all of you to pause for a moment and introspect. We can realize, class 2b plays a mischievous game in EBM with the English language “may and may not”. It tries to push subconsciously an interventional bias from equipoise, in spite of lack of good evidence and clear divergence of opinion and a possible trend towards harm.

Further, there is widespread reluctance in many cardiac workgroups to refer class 3 recommendations as an absolute (or at least relative contraindication) It was strange to note one of my colleagues argued that,  class 3 is also a fair recommendation, to accept or reject is in our domain. I was initially shocked to hear that but had to agree with him ultimately as we realized a significant chunk of interventions we do, like delayed PCI > 24 hrs, CTOs, and chronic stable belongs to the proud class 3 recommendation. The debate came to a funny end when a senior cardiologist confessed somehow class 3 seemed to be a lesser evil than even class 2B.

Final message

For the sake of our patients, we need to bring an urgent reform in the EBM. Let us merge class 2b with class 3 and put it in a single basket and keep it out of reach to all tempting stakeholders. We shall display only class 1 in our therapeutic showcase.

Counterpoint

(*Dynamic recommendations is the norm in science, as we accumulate evidence with time.. Agreed, let us do this silently in research labs. Don’t bring it to practical guidelines. No, can’t agree. Freedom to indulge with an experimental modality in a no-option patient must always be there as we are able to give the benefit of doubt to these helpless patients. This is a valid argument but we must not forget even in dire situations  good option need not be a compulsive action, it can be in action as well)

 

 

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