Archive for the ‘STEMI-Primary PCI’ 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.

Read Full Post »

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 .


Read Full Post »

We know  streptokinase  is a non fibrin specific   agent that   results in systemic lytic state and hence more chance of bleeding.

TPA is fibrin specific  and it  will act only on fibrin  bound to clot , hence systemic bleeding risk should be less.

However , in real world , it is well  documented  stroke risk with TPA is consistently more than streptokinase .(It varies between .0.3-.5% with streptokinase , 0.7-to 1%  with TPA)

How do you explain this apparent  paradox ?

Possible explanations.

  1. The fibrin selectivity pf TPA is not absolute* .
  2. The lytic power of  TPA is more hence stroke is more likely.
  3. The FDP* released by TPA can trigger a systemic lytic state
  4. In the  post TPA protocol   heparin  is  mandatory and  this  contribute to stroke risk.

*What happens o fibrin degradation products (FDP) levels after TPA ?

FDP levels do increase after TPA  .This peaks at 1 hour after lysis.it Correlates well with risk of stroke.(Ho CH, Wang infarction.Thrombosis Research ).


This is an excellent review with analysis from 14 studies with total of 142 907 patients with thrombolysis

A meta  analysis of thrombolytic agents streptokinase vs tpa tnktpa  stroke risk fibrin slectivity

Ho CH, Wang SP Serial thrombolysis-related changes after thrombolytic therapy with TPA in patients with acute myocardial infarction.Thrombosis Research

Read Full Post »

Pharmaco Invasive approach (PIA)  is the new mantra in the management of ACS.It simply means the intention to do PCI   should always  be the  driving force in every STEMI patient , whether the Initial lysis is successful or failed .

This concept is exclusively created  for centers where there is no cath lab (This would include  hospitals  with  inactive labs ,  cardiologist  team  who lack required expertise !)

What to do after lysis ?

  • If  the initial lysis has failed  “Rush” them  for an emergency  PCI.
  • If  Initial lysis is successful  “Send”  them for PCI in a  less emergent manner.

Generally the  time window for PIA is 3-24 hours.  In failed lysis  technically it could be as early as 1 hour as that is the time to assess the efficacy of initial lysis. (Of-course the theoretical transfer  time to be added )

Why the 3 hour period for PIA ?

We know routine   facilitated-PCI(f-PCI)  with various combinations of  fibrinolytics  and 2b -3a antagonists is a failed concept. (FINNESS )

One of  the primary reason for f-PCI to fail is , the  very narrow time window  between drug and balloon which somehow  end up in more hazard  (Needle -Balloon window)  .

If they are very close the harm is likely to be more ,still they have to be closer if lysis has failed .(This is the reason many old studies had depressing results with even with the  concept  of rescue PCI !)

Lytic agents and PCI  even though we assume to compliment each other real world evidence indicate they share a love hate relationship .


Beware, PIA is one form of facilitated  PCI.

If we agree routine  f-PCI is a failed concept we are in for real trouble. PIA indeed may  masquerade as f-PCI  if  you combine lytic and PCI in sequential fashion in a hurry !

My point of view is is a  successfully lysed STEMI should not be rushed to cath lab .If  he  some how reach the  cath lab ultra fast manner , it behaves like a  f-PCI and he is going  to harmed more !  by the current evidence base  isn’t ?

If the  inital lysis was successful , with a  less complex anatomy, it is  possible your PCI  that is going make the lesion more vulnerable.

(The other  issue is tied with flawed human instinct. One can’t stop with CAG in a PIA* .Interventional  cardiologists rarely have the courage to leave a well recannalised IRA  without PCI.)

**Still , you need to facilitate the PCI in complex intervention in  true rescue situation.That’s were we require the collective wisdom.

Assumptions galore in ACS

We have difficulty in  identifying true success and failure of lysis .Vagueness with which we make decisions  in CCUs and cath labs  , is exemplified by the following facts. Post thrombolysis , 40%  patients with persistent ST elevation are asymptomatic and 30 % of all those with complete  ST regression , still have occluded IRA.

We are also uncertain when do  the muscle  truly  die after a STEMI ! It is 6 hours in some, 12 in many, 24h  in few , 36 h in a lucky ones .The role  of collaterals, intermittent patency , individual variation  resistance to myocardial hypoxia injury cannot be  be quantified .

Final message

  • The importance of Needle to Balloon  time (NBT) time in PIA  is to be strongly emphasized.
  • This time can vary between 1-24 hours .But practically it will start from 3 hours .
  • The irony is , we have conflicting  engagement with time in PIA. We have to  strive for both narrowing as well as intentionally  prolonging this time window .
  • It has to be narrowed in true rescue situations and   optimally prolonged (Or is it indefinitely ! ) in non rescue situations !

After thought

Can we do pharmaco-Invasive approach(PIA)  in PCI capable center ?

  • Even in PCI capable centre one may get struck in proceeding with anticipated primary PCI for various reasons . If delay is anticipated we  have to fall back on thrombolysis .This we call as  unscheduled  or bail out  phamaco Invasive strategy .
  • Intentional PIA   in a PCI capable hospital for all low risk MI is also a viable and option .Never think  primary lysis   for STEMI  even if we  have lab ready is serious medial crime . After all , pPCI has a very  marginal benefits in if any in all low risk STEMI!

Read Full Post »

Last week  there was a heated debate in our CCU regarding thrombolysis for  a patient with severe rest angina  and ST elevation in AVR  and ST depression in V2-V5  as it implies  Left main disease  Few argued left main disease is an exception where one can thrombolyse even with unstable angina !

One of my fellows argued ACC guidelines vouched for lysis in UA involving left main .( I do not agree )

A logical attempt to differentiate Left main NSTEMI//UA and STEMI

(In the strict sense Left main NSTEMI is misnomer as AVR shows ST elevation  isn’t ? )

left main disease

Final message

Such  patients with suspected LMD   are to be rushed to cath lab .  . . agreed . If it is not feasible , manage it as high risk unstable angina and do not thrombolyse .Let it be left main disease . Indications for lysis are clear. ST  elevation in AVR alone can not be taken as an Indication for lysis.For thromolysis to be effective there should be high thrombus burden with total occlusion . ST elevation in single lead (AVR ) is not a good  marker for left-main thrombus !

Read Full Post »

Time is muscle. This quote  became  sort of ” cardiology sermon”  in the last  few decades .Cardiologist think  they stand  on a 100 meters sprint track once a patient with STEMI arrives .This is indeed true ,  if we  agree  time is  muscle and  our urge is to reduce the door to balloon time .Please  remember ,  this rush matters  much ,  only if the patient comes through very early  when the muscle is really getting damaged . (No issues  . . . even if the fire engine comes in  slow motion if the  house is burnt fully !)

Time is muscle agreed  . . .  but  muscles are  kept alive by  factors other than time  !  So muscles can  defy time if God  is willing !

Time is one of the important components of management of STEMI.  Other things matter too !  Age , baseline co-morbidity ,  underlying extent of CAD, collateral support of IRA territory , and finally  individual variation in hypoxic damage in myocyte is (Rarely  been studied in detail.)

Door  to balloon time for a patient  who lands up within  1 hour window need  to be  much  different from a patient who comes at 10 th hour .The issue is important  because  we use a procedure which requires delicate decision-making ,(IRA-Non IRA issues etc)  the results can be  sub optimal ,  and even be hazardous in low risk STEMI . So , door to balloon time  may be a less  important  component of  time window in a patient who comes after 6 hours .This is the reason  overall outcomes are not changing in a large cohort  of rapidly performed PCI.

The presumed  absolute  relationship  between  “Time  and  muscle”  concept is  always been a suspect . This  is proven by a flawless study from  NEJM .

nejm stemi most important article


This study should infuse more sense to  us ,  time and again, we are  hijacked and sedated by high dose of  pseudo scientific concoction .In fact ,  indiscriminate rapid PCI may not be in  the good interest of  all  patients with STEMI ,  if it is not properly done  .Without realising this fact many developing countries are indulging in extravagance of  costly STEMI programs wasting  the exchequer.

This landmark NEJM  paper convincingly underscores a fact  that  achieving  rapid door to balloon time  is not  going to be the game changer in  conquering  the Global   STEMI  championship  . We have to take the coronary care into the streets  or to their homes as well .This is where the pre-hospital thrombolysis will  emerge in a big way in the future .

A slow and steady thrombolysis beats a fast and furious primary PCI on any given day in all uncomplicated STEMI .This we have proven for over three decades in  one of the India’s largest coronary care unit .( Where is the data man ?  Genuine experience is data . Why  we require , the act of publication to convert an experience into evidence . Often times ,  I  would feel , data is the most unscientific word in medicine . Many Truths  lack evidence , false hoods come with plenty !  For all those  scientific  homo sapiens  , please recall  70 % of ACC/AHA class 1 recommendations are backed by level C evidence ie simple opinion from  perceived experts! )

Final message

A fast and furious primary PCI may not be  the answer in all STEMI population

Thrombolysis  can be  done  with near  zero time delay , it does not require special expertise where an ambulance driver can reperfuse   a myocardium without much fuss and glamor ! He does not have to  split his hair to identify which is the IRA in a complex multivessel STEMI as well ! The streptokinase and TPA will home in  to the target site  smoothly and swiftly .

If indeed ,  time is the major factor in STEMI , we have many other ways to tame  the time . If muscle is more important than time ,  pPCI is  rarely  the answer !

Some India specific  thoughts

Is it not a shame  , we talk about primary PCI  for all  our patients  who do not even get timely Aspirin* after a STEMI! .It is something akin to what we witness every day ,  as our country folks  wield touch screen  Androids  . . . conversing  in open air toilets !

* While the importance of  Aspirin is undermined , It is different story altogether , these patients  get sorbitarate promptly whenever they get chest pain  (mis-placed and  dangerous priority ! )  prescribed by the  roaring  GPs ,  who suffer from discontinuous medical education ,  propelled  by the deeply penetrated 1000 crore oral Nitrate market .

And STEMI workshops are conducted by self-proclaimed experts  every few months in posh  7 star hotels all over India .

Read Full Post »

This  is the story of a 55 year old  women ,  who was received  in our CCU  with a  dramatic STEMI (ECG looked like an action potential ) ,  LV  S 3  and  hypotension.    It was impending cardiogenic shock.Since we do not have full fledged primary PCI  program  , thrombolysis was planned. She had  cardiac arrest   immediately after  starting streptokinase infusion . She  was  promptly shocked  and  revived .  The ECG changes rapidly  reversed(ECG -3) . Every other  hemodynamic parameter got stabilised as well . To our surprise   ( few hours later ) this patient  was  so comfortable , sat up on her bed ,  demanded a discharge . (Which was refused of course !)  One week  later coronary angiogram was done, a near complete recannalisation of RCA was documented.

ECG 1 on arrival
Inferior MI 2  

ECG -2 Developed cardiac arrest  10 minutes  after  starting the Streptokinase Infusion

primary VF 2

ECG -3 .Taken few minutes following   the VF

inferior MI evolved 2


Acute myocardial infarction (STEMI)  kills more than a million life every year . Majority of death  happens within an hour of onset of symptoms. Ventricular fibrillation  is the arrhythmia of death. Why this occurs  only in  few , while  many are  immune to it ?

God keeps  this secret  close to his chest ,  how and why  he selects   candidates for this arrhythmia !

Scientists are still  far away  in finding the truth . But , one thing  is obvious .The  moment   coronary artery is totally occluded  , the heart begins a fight  and try  to  get rid of this obstruction . In the process ,  it  goes into convulsion (VF)  with a foolish belief  , it  can shrug of the thrombotic insult . Death often   ensues if  not intervened . (Very rarely  VF can be a non sustained one  and patient survives cardiac arrest !)

VF  as  a electrical  response  to  reperfusion injury .

Often times ,  we witness patients  to  go  for  VF  very early following thrombolysis . The  thrombus in situ is an irritant , it  triggers the inherent fibrinolytic system (Natural TPA included) If it is successful  it opens the occlusion ( atleast partially )  and salvages the myocardium .If the fate is against  the patient , very early reperfusion of IRA triggers  VF  .  If this occurs at home   survival  is  low .If  the VF occur at hospital the probability of survival is near 100 % .

               The  intensity of  natural lytic mechanism  is the major determinant  of   early reperfusion . Ironically  the same  factor   determines  occurrence of the deadly  VF .

I would believe  , the STEMI patients  who die early (even before reaching  the hospital ) are (un) blessed with a  fighting  heart  ! Ironically , the lazy hearts  reach the hospital  alive ! (slow &  steady win the race !) .  Of course , reperfusion  injury is not the only mechanism of VF . Other common suspect is  left main STEMI .

Link to related video “Ignorance based  cardiology ”


Final message

While , VF  is  referred  to as arrhythmia  of death , it may  in-fact , represent  a common form  of  reperfusion arrhythmia in  the setting of  STEMI !  .  . .  Hence , it can  Initiate  a new lease of life in  many   lucky ones !  I hope the title of this article  makes sense  !

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »