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Archive for the ‘general medicine’ Category

Recently , I came across a   young women  who underwent the following three tests for one episode of syncope after witnessing her pet dog bleeding with  an Injury !

  1. Carotid doppler
  2. Holter monitoring and event monitors
  3. Brain MRI /MR angiogram

This was followed up  by Head up tilt(HUT)  in a premier hospital

After 1 week of investigation ,a diagnosis of  Neurocardiogenic syncope was made and she was reassured and no drugs were prescribed.

(The collective yield of the above three investigation in fixing  a specific diagnosis is  less than 10 % of all known causes of syncope )

Syncope  approach  evaluation

To diagnose  common syncope . . . we need common sense !

Syncope is a dramatic  symptom.It is one of the commonest symptom in ER as well . Life time incidence of syncope is at least one episode in 50% all human life ! The definition  of syncope until recently , was liberal .Any transient loss of consciousness with spontaneous recovery  was termed syncope.

This includes

  1. Hypoglycemia
  2. Anemia
  3. Siezure disorders
  4. Structural  neurogenic (Including ,  brain tumors , Dural hematomas etc )
  5. Panic attacks (psychogenic)

Cardiologists wanted to fix syncope as an exclusive disorder of  circulatory insufficiency.By bringing in a modification in the definition  , ie  syncope is  now defined as a transient loss of consciousness due to   reduction in cerebral perfusion  .

This definition helped cardiologists  to exclude the above entities . Still many would include all in single basket as patient should be seen as a whole and we can’t expect them to  land according to our convenience and classification.

Here is an incomplete* list about causes of  syncope (* 99% complete ?)

Vascular

  • Vaso- vagal syncope in young ( Neuro-cardiogenic , Common , Benign)
  • Autonomic dysfunction of elderly ( Including postural hypotension )

Cardiac

Arrhythmic ( Sinus node dysfunction /CHB/Idiopathic VT/Long QT syndromes)

Structural heart disease

  • Valvular  heart disease  (LVOT/RVOT obstructions)
  • Myocardial disease
  • Rarely ischemic heart disease

Miscellaneous

  • Severe pulmonary hypertension (Including PPH ,  pulmonary Embolism )
  • Paradoxical embolism.
  • Aortic arch disease -Takayasu related arteritis .

Investigation

We have a sophisticated array  of investigation for syncope .It can be a never ending exercise , ranging from  spinal cord evoked potentials to diagnose Shy-drager syndrome ,   . . .  to implanting long-term loop recorders to decode  heart beat behavior.

However , evaluation of syncope is the ultimate wake-up call  to all current generation cardiologists  . . . Why clinical cardiology  should  never  be allowed to die (and  it  will not ! )

Common sense begins with answering  few simple questions . Is it really syncope ?

If  you ask this question three times and with  specific leads to the patient  and the witness ,  truth will come out  . 90% of times it may not be syncope at all (Near syncope, accidental  fall, dizziness ,extreme blurred vision, drowsiness  etc)

If it is syncope , Is there a non cardiac cause ?

It may related to the Hypoglycemia / Anemia /Panic attacks.Get a neurologist opinion , it would be terrible mistake if you miss a space occupying lesion  within the brain. (Missing chronic silent sub dural hematomas is  frequent   in the evaluation of syncope of elderly !)

Ruling out  cardiac syncope is relatively easy

In the remaining  patients  basic investigation like routine blood tests,ECG, ECHO   will help us  rule out most serious cardiac disorders.Similarly  bulk of the electrical cardiac syncope can be diagnosed.(Holter , carotid study in selected few )

Need for neurologist -cardiologist interaction.

Syncope due to VBI,  transient Ischemia attack , Senile vascular dementia  is a grey zone . Many have complex neuronal -vascular mechanisms . What is Consciousness ?  and  What is LOC ?  :Is it the lack of blood or severely depressed nerve signal in the reticular activating system? Lots of interaction between cardiologist and neurologist is required to clear our ignorance.(I  have one such  elderly patient who is intermittently awake ! I call this chronic syncope !)  .

Undiagnosed syncope is not  a crime

Realise the most important lesson in Medicine . If you  have ruled out all serious  causes of syncope you should have the courage to be satisfied with that !

Scientific pursuits has a limit. Searching for the mechanism of a psychogenic  fainting attacks with intra cerebral electrodes is a clear case of  physician acquiring a psychotic  behavior !

Final message

Syncope is not only a dramatic symptom for the patient , it also unfolds a drama of costly  investigations  . .  . many  with  dubious value.

Talk to the patient personally for  10 minutes in a quiet room, try to apply that elusive  clinical sense  . . .   it would rarely let you down !

After thought

What is the true clinical value of * Head up tilt Test (HUT)?

Will be posted soon

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News : In any developed nation , 90 % of  total  health expenditure is  exhausted in prolonging  final few days of  human  life !

When cost of dying   . . .  exceeds cost of living   . . . this world will go nuts !

The current real world  experience  from India’s  five star  hospitals  indicate,  many elderly rich men and women  spend their  last few days  before being buried or burnt  .They spent an average of 15 lakh Rs per death . This amounts to the entire  “life time” cost of living   of  majority of Indians .

modern medicine art living and dying

Image courtesy from Flicker/ Rachel sian photostream

When   human organ donation is considered  a greatest philanthropic act, there is one more excellent alternative for those who can’t do it .If only every super rich translate  their cost of dying  into  cost of  others living !   many new lives  will bloom .

The exorbitant rise in  cost of  dying  in India ,  is a recent development and reflects the affluence , honor , pride and of course lots of prejudice lack of wisdom ! Instead of filling the  deep  pockets of greedy  corporates why not the rich add new  lives   ?  !

Final message

Let all elders  with irreversible conditions , who have finished their life , shall  die peacefully at home .Why don’t we ( Affluent  .  . . would  be cadavers !)  cross sponsor their dying cost to a  public  health , nutrition or medical fund .

After thought

Oh America ,  . . .  Am I right  ,?  Obama thought it and implementing it too !  I would believe , his health care policy is  a  small first step in this  direction  !

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One of my otherwise  well behaving  patient ,  suddenly asked me this question ,  before leaving my  clinic  after a 15 minute consult .

Doctor  . . . I am taking the clopidgrel and aspirin  for 5 years like a vitamin tablet  . . . is that all right  doctor ?

I just got curious, I checked  the prescription again . Yeh ,  he was right !

I have  been mechanically writing  Tablet Clopitab  A  since 2008 !

Clopidogrel abuse long term

For what ?

Some sort of CAD !   Was it for ACS ?   No , it was for chronic stable angina . No PCI,  . . . no DES !

Why the hell  he is taking dual anti-platelet  therapy for 5 years ?

Some  body  , some  where  , has  prescribed it . This man  is taking it  for years together with absolute sanctity.

I was amused  . . . it is also  my mistake . Why it never struck me  to scrutinize the prescription ?

I thanked him . I  removed clopidogrel  from the list , and asked him to continue tablet Ecosprin 150mg  for some time .

( And  now I  had a genuine doubt  ! Does he have CAD at all ! I browsed his file , I couldn’t  find a true documentation for CAD  as I feared  !)

I asked him to get back with an  exercise test ,  . . .  if it comes negative i  can even stop the aspirin as well  I  explained  him  ! (Now he got amused !)

Final message

Who wants Knowledge ?

It is  dumped every  where , free of cost  . . .  both in real and cyber world .Applying it requires more sense  .  and my patient  taught me that  !

Patients  not only  help us  earn  our  bread  and butter , they  do  enrich  our brain  as well ! Never get humiliated when a patient teaches  you a lesson in medicine !

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The  major  issue of contention is fear of conversion of pure ischemic stroke into hemorrhagic stroke .

But here is a catch if you worry about that  . . . who will worry about recurrent emboli from heart ?

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678170/pdf/nihms104070.pdf


anti coagulation following cardio embolic stroke

aha stroke guidelines 2007

aha stroke guidelines

Recommendation for heparin

aha antiplatlet agent

Recommendation for anti-platelet drugs

I think  the 2007   stroke guidelines are the latest .Even after going  through the guidelines  I am not really clear about the answer for the question posed in this article.

One more thing   I  (mis) understood was  ,  In acute stroke thrombolysis seems to be safe  . . . Heparin seems to be dangerous ?  Is that true ?  It defies logic for  me !

One possible explanation is thromolysis is a emergency single shot salvaging  process . While prolonged heparin will ooze blood into Infarct ! This is exactly is the reason  in   tPA   should not be   followed up with heparin  in acute strokes.(unlike STEMI  where a follow up heparin is a must )

Regarding prevention of recurrent emboli , we need to bother about whether it is predominately platelet rich or RBC rich

Readers may contribute to find the exact answer !

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What are  the blind spots of aorta in Tans thoracic  Echo ?

What are pseudo  dissection flops in aortic arch ?

How to differentiate true from false lumen ?

Can  TEE  also  miss any  segments  of  Aorta ?

How is  Aortic Intra mural hematoma differentiated form true dissection?

Spend a minimum of 30 minutes in this 14 page  article.  You will  be able to answer all these and much more The knowledge gained ,   would easily beat  a  day  long   crash course on   Echocardiogram   !

Please thank  the European society of cardiology for providing this article free of cost !

Reference

http://ehjcimaging.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/8/645.full.pdf+html

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Some scientists are  known for their discovery ,  few are known for their vision  few for their character .Here was a man who  had  all of them  can be termed as father of modern medicine .

Rudolf Virchow - German pathologist( 1821-1902)

Unfortunately the current generation knows him for his concept and theory of blood clotting  or  lymph  node in the neck .

Here is a  reviews about this man who single handedly   taught  the world

He  insisted  , caring  the sick and treating illness  is  more of a social science than medical one

We  have probably  not  learnt  a single lesson yet , from this master  teacher is a different story !

Avid listeners to Virchow in Berlin university

My  Virchowian thoughts

This man’s understanding of medicine was much . . .  much sharper than us –  100 years ago  , when  cardiology was practiced  with out  even an  ECG and   X-ray chest  . ( Is itn’t  true   today  we struggle with  loads of  3 dimensinal  gadolinium enhanced  cardiac MRI ! images )

Virchow’s  concepts  are most relevant in today’s world  , where the corporate and capitalist  culture  has  hijacked the  noble profession . Inhabitants of this planet are  threatened with eccentrically blown up  healthcare  system   where  the  development of   modern medical   modalities is completely out phase of with what  is required for the people .

We will pay a heavy penalty  if  this world  continues to witness   people die  for as  flimsy  reasons  like lack of oral re-hydration fluids   , while the other section of society is  marketing an exotic  mitochondrial DNA  slicers  for prolonging a  cancer victim  life by few months .

In a global society  where  social , economic  and environmental  responsibilities  and liabilities  are shared ,  it would be disastrous if  one country is simply not bothered about what is happening in other country.


WHO the world health organization came into being exactly for this reason .

We know  .  . . how it functions .  It is the  most abused united nation body . It has  neither the required  power nor the will to  tell the world  and insist them the  righteous  route for human health !

If the rich  are  not bothered about poor ,  it is certain  the rich will  also be eliminated  from the planet  for the same reasons  . . . it’s  just  a matter of time   !

Reference

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1305179/pdf/westjmed00323-0041.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Virchow

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Here is a  video recipe  !

Please click here to  see more videos from my you tube site

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