Archive for the ‘STEMI’ Category

How do you evaluate the success of thrombolysis or primary PCI  ?

If you say its coronary angiogram and the final snapshot  of  TIMI flow , you need to read further. If you thought its actually the quantum of ECG ST regression . . . great ,  you can exit this page  with credits.

CAG  may not be the gold standard in defining PCI success , it just tells you whether IRA is patent or not .Instead , the good old ECG tells you about whether  the myocardium is successfully reperfused or not .  TIMI flows are simply not good enough to identify  adequacy of  myocardial reperfusion .

By the way ,  who is telling this  ?


It appears there is only a  narrow gap between Ignorance and Knowledge !

That’s what the simple message I got  from this landmark study  published in year the 2000 in JACC by Shah.A in the thrombolytic era.The Importance of this paper  has far reaching consequences (If and only if we are  willing to accept and  understand  the concept and apply  as a whole in PCI era )

While success of thrombolysis is faith fully subjected to  the acid tests  of myocardial perfusion , primary PCI is rarely ever assessed in terms of  ST segment regression.

What is the next logical step this study should lead  us to ?  

I think I am not provocating  , . . How to  get rid of the prevailing practice of jacking up the success rate of primary PCI  ? ( Conveniently,  Ignoring the echo detected significant LV dysfunction on follow up ) Mind you, this has resulted in  creating a new crop of patient sub group called  “Angiographic success and myocardial failure”


Dear colleagues , please go thorough this article . Its from the thought leaders , Duke University ,North Carolina. I would argue the cardiology fellows to discuss this paper in detail in their  journal club as “classic paper”  till they  completely understand the conclusion .Though its  done with GUSTO 1 data  in primarily  lytic population,  its  conclusions are very much valid as an assessment tool  in reperfusion by any means.I am afraid, even 16  years after this paper  got published ,the truth has not penetrated to the targeted population within the cardiology community.

Prognostic implications of TIMI flow grade in the infarct related artery compared with continuous 12-lead ST-segment resolution analysis. Reexamining the “gold standard” for myocardial reperfusion assessment. Shah A1, Wagner GS, Granger CB, J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000 Mar 1;35(3):666-72.

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100% occlusion of a coronary artery result in STEMI.This includes both thrombus and mechanical component .We are very much blinded till we touch , feel and see the lesion with a wire or IVUS to quantify the mechanical component’s  contribution in the genesis of  STEMI.It is generally believed (True as well ) thrombus is the chief culprit .It can even be 100 % thromotic STEMI with  just a residual endothelial  erosion and hence
zero mechanical component .However , the point of contention that non flow limiting lesion is more likely to cause a thrombotic STEMI than a flow liming
lesion  seems to be biased and misunderstood scientific fact .

What happens once 100 % occlusion take place ?

Sudden occlusion , is expected to evoke a strong fire fighting response within the coronary artery.The immediate reaction is the activation of  tissue plasminogen system. In this aftermath  few succumb . ( Re-perfusion arrhythmia  generated as VF ) .The TPA system activates and tries to lyse the clot.The volume , morphology, attachment, content of thrombus ,  and the elasticity of fibrin mesh , location of  platelet core would determine the life and dissolvablity of thrombus. Even a trickle flow can keep the distal vessel patent .(Please note a timely TIMI 2 flow can be a greater achievement than a delayed TIMI 3  flow !)

thrombus propgation
What happens to the natural history of thrombus in STEMI ?
Thrombus formed over the culprit lesion can follow any of the following course

  •  Can remain static
  •  Get lysed by natural or pharmacological means
  •  Progress distally (By fragmentation or by moving en-mass )
  •  Grow proximal and and involve more serious proximal side branch obstruction
  • Organise and become a CTO

Factors determining thrombus migration

The interaction between the hemodynamic  forces that push a thrombus distally and hemo-rheological factors that promote fresh proximal thrombus formation are poorly understood. The altered intra-coronary milieu with a fissured plaque covered by  platelet vs RBC / fibrin core,  totally of obstruction,  reperfusing forces , re-exposure of raw areas and  the distal vessel integrity all matters.

While, logic would tell us,  thrombus more often migrates  distally  assisted by the direction of blood flow, an  opposite concept also seeks attention , ie since the blood flow is sluggish  in the proximal (to obstruction site )more thrombus forms in segments proximal to obstruction.

(In fact, its presumed  in any acute massive proximal LAD STEMI , it takes hardly few minutes for the thrombus to  queue up proximaly and  clog the bifurcation and spill over to LCX or even reach left main and result in instant mechanical death.)

What is the significance of length and longitudinal resistance of the thrombotic segment in STEMI ?

If thrombus is the culprit let us get rid of it , this concept looks nice on paper , but still  we don’t  know why thrombus aspiration in STEMI is not consistently useful. We also know little about  the length of the thrombotic  segment .When a guide wire is passed over a STEMI ATO it may cross smoothly like  “cutting a slice of  butter” in some , while in few we struggle and  end up with severe no-reflow inspite of great efforts .Why ?

What is the Impact of distal collateral flow in flushing fresh thrombus ?

The efficacy of collateral flow in salvaging myocardium is underestimated. Distal vessel flow if perfused partially by acute collaterals the thrombus load is not only less it’s soft and fail to get organised early that would help cross the lesion easily.

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A STEMI patient arrives late after 48 hours with chest pain .There is  persistent ST elevation.

What is the likely mechanism of this chest pain ?

  • Index infarct pain continuing . . .
  • Post infarct Angina-IRA territory
  • Re-infarction following intermittent re-perfusion  and re-occlusion
  • Remote  ischemia from a branch of IRA
  • Ischemia from a possible  non IRA lesion in a multivessel CAD

If this patient  comes to a non PCI eligible centre. Will you lyse him  ?

If post infarct angina is  unstable angina  . Isn’t  thrombolysis  contraindicated in UA  ?

How to differentiate Post Infarct Angina from Re-Infarction ?

A very tricky issue indeed.

Unless fresh ST elevation with fresh enzyme peak is documented these entities  cannot be differentiated.

(Even  fresh ST elevation can be related to infarct expansion ,stretch or early acute remodeling.Fresh enzyme  release or new peak  may not represent new infarct always .It can be due to intermittent re-perfusion of IRA .It may  simply represent a  enzyme  flush from the index infarct zone)

What is the practical , realistic , (Unscientific !)  solution  ?

Why break our head ? Never bother to differentiate PIA   from Reinfarction  etc . Let  it  be any thing . Do a emergency CAG .Stent  whichever  lesion looks good  for the same . Of course , make sure he has enough insurance coverage .


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This  query often  evokes  confusion  among fellows and General physicians .

              The answer is simple .Yes ,  you can.(With few conditions)

  • Thrombolysis  or PCI  is  done  with reference to  the  presence  or absence of ST elevation and chest pain.
  • If there is ongoing chest pain  and  significant new onset ST elevation  thrombolysis or PCI is indicated whether there is associated q  waves or not.

Clinical situations 

 Ischemic  q waves: Q wave can occur  with transmural ischemia which result in electrical stunning and loss of R waves . (Many of them  regenerate this R within few days after STEMI ,  indicating the q  waves can be  ischemic  in origin)

Reinfarction : Patients with  old  MI can develop fresh ST elevation  in q leads due to tachycardia and dyskinetic infarct segment .This group  of patients  should be carefully evaluated before labeling them as  re-infarction

* q RBBB in early hours of  anterior STEMI is fairly common which  may revert later. qRBBB is not a contraindication for re-perfusion .

Final  message

Presence of q waves does not  imply one should not  entertain  thrombolysis or PCI .The decision  to reperfuse  , rather  goes with  presence of  chest pain , ST elevation and  of course  within the  acceptable   time window!

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