Posts Tagged ‘cardiogenic shock’

We owe a lot to our past genius minds for our current understanding of  cardiology.Youngsters   should  know how the filed of cardiology  evolved .Few  great  brains  taught us how to think   hemodynamically  in the setting of  STEMI.

The Diamond and Forrester classification is  an  undisputed achievement of  modern cardiac  hemodynamics.They gently converted the  clinical classification of  Killip into more scientific  hemodynamic  one .Both these classification continue to fascinate  us even in the era of instant PCI for STEMI .

And youngsters  should read this again and again and critically evaluate their patients  within this system.The two key parameters he used was PCWP of  18mmhg /And cardiac Index 2.2liters . He also suggested a simplified version where  intra- arterial monitoring is not feasible.  The   cardiac Index could be replaced by systemic blood pressure  lung congestion   represents PCWP >18mmhg .

The DF classification would become

An important inference from DF classification !

The class 3  of   DF   grading  has no pulmonary congestion  but persistent hypotension . What does it mean ?

It is a stunning proof of a great concept.  As the patient moves (Worsens)  from  DF  two  to   DF three  , the lung congestion tends  to regress . This sub-set  actually  means   development of  bi-ventricular failure or isolated RV failure  . This is an ominous sign and indicate a bad prognosis . ( One may call it a paradox  , according to conventional thinking   “The more the lung crackles  , dismal  is the outcome”   DF  grading clearly proves this is  not  always true ,  as long as  the systemic pressure is maintained  crackles can be managed effectively  . In  DF 3  the right ventricle  as a pump is  becoming so weak it is not able to congest the lungs  at the same  process leads to  systemic hypotension.

James Forrester


Forrester is also a pioneer in how we evaluate chest pain in the emergency rooms and cardiology OPDs .  His thoughts on utilization of Besean theorem revolutionized   the interpretation of exercise stress testing.

* Killip is a genius of different caliber would be discussed later .


Forrester, J, Diamond, G, Chatterjie, K, et al Medical therapy of acute myocardial infarction by application of hemodynamic subsets (first of two parts). N Engl J Med 1976;295,1356-1362

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We know,  electrical deaths constitute the bulk of sudden cardiac deaths in MI.  Mechanical deaths due to pump failure, muscle rupture , valve leak , also cause significant deaths   .(Surprisingly many of the mechanical deaths   may also   fulfill  the sudden death criteria !)

Free wall rupture is  invariably a fatal event. Papillary  muscle trunk  rupture  leads to severe LVF and unless intervened sure to result in fatality.

The ones who tear their interventricular septum  are some what blessed ! Here ,  the rupture does not result in instant death as there is  no loss of blood ,   instead , there is an  volume over load of right ventricle  followed by the  left ventricle  after a  few beats. Hypotension is the  rule. Even though this is a major complication there is something about  VSR which makes it unique.

Sudden giving way of IVS has  a decompressing effect on the ailing left ventricle.This many times  bring a  temporary relief to LV and if the patient survives the first few hour he is likely to stabilise  further . In fact , sudden deaths within 24hours after the onset of VSR is an exception.This defect always gives the cardiologists and surgeon some time to plan the management. We need to use this time judiciously.

The natural history is delicate . Five themes are possible

  1. Very unstable Instant death( Fortunately a  rare theme )
  2. Unstable – Deteriorating further
  3. Unstable to Stable * fit for discharge even without surgery
  4. Stable from the onset and  continue to be stable* .
  5. Stable to Unstable (Probably the most common theme )

* Pleasant themes occasionally witnessed !)

Here is 55 year old women came with extensive anterior MI with lower septal rupture.(She belonged to type 3 of the above scheme)


Note the septal rupture is visible even in 2D Echo


Color flow showing significant shunting from LV to RV.This shunt depends upon the LV contractile function, LVEDP and ofcourse the RV pressure


If there is severe RV dysfunction or bi ventricular dysfunction flow across the defect is inconspicuous.Brisk left to right shunting may be an indirect marker for good LV systolic function and absence of significant pulmonary hypertension.Both imply a better outcome.

The main determinant  of survival is the  underlying LV dysfunction and associated co morbidity(Renal function ) and complications .

Infero -posterior ruptures tend to be complex and  may have multiple irregular tracks  that makes it difficult to repair.


Echo cardiogram is the mainstay .Serial echos should be done to assess the mechanical function and the progress of VSR.Hemodynamic monitoring may be done without injuring the patient .

Medical management

  • Often supportive , but  effective . Dobutamine infusion can maintain a life for few days.
  • Paradoxically , LV dysfunction and elevated LVEDP restricts volume overloading of VSD.
  • Associated MR, Arrhythmias  need to be taken care of .

Surgeons role

  • Very Vital.
  • Experience counts.(Individual as well as  Institutional )

Timing of surgery

Continues to be a controversy . Surgeons love to operate in a stable patient. But they need to realise , surgery is often needed to stabilise  many  patients. . The issue of tissue friability  is blown out of proportion in the literature .When a  life is  is at danger we can not worry about  friable tissues !

The rule of thumb could be

  • Operate as early as possible in unstable patient.
  • Post pone surgery in stable patient as late as possible ( Late here means . . .elective non emergent surgery )

Surgical options

  • Simple VSR closure without  knowing coronary anatomy
  • Simple VSR closure after knowing coronary anatomy
  • VSR closure with CABG ( total revascularization)
  • VSR closure with partial revascularization

In our experience  each of the above , has a role in a given patient depending upon the logistic , financial , social and even  the available expertise. (A good surgeon in bad Institution !)

Is coronary angiogram mandatory  before attempting to close VSR ?

Logically yes. If it is not available  just do not bother .  But, many times , when issue is saving lives , we can not afford to be too scientific , many lives have been saved by not following  such strict  protocols .A simple emergency  thoracotomy and closure of rupture site (Without even touching the LAD ) can be a distinct  and viable option in  a selected few .

Role of cardiologists

Contrary to the popular belief the role of cardiologists is minimal , except  to prepare  the patient and hand over to the surgeon.

Interventional approach to close  a VSR  is currently  be termed as an  adventurous option ! The VSRs  can assume unpredictable shapes  and the  tears can be multiple  in  different planes. The devices , catheters and  other hard ware are not specifically made to tackle these  issues  .An acquired VSR  should never be compared with congenital VSD.

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Myocardial infarction (STEMI)  occurs in two distinct arterial  territories .The anterior LAD circulation and postero- inferior RCA/LCX circulation.The incidence is equally shared.

There has been some  learned and unlearned perceptions about Inferior MI.

Inferior MI is less dangerous than anterior MI.  True or false ?

Answer: Essentially true in most situations.


Inferior wall of the heart (strictly speaking there is no walls for heart , only surfaces , which blends with adjacent areas)  inferior wall  is formed by diaphragmatic surface and posterior surface.Inferior MI can occur by either RCA or LCX obstruction.The outcome of inferior MI is determined by mainly by  the extent  of   LV myocardial   damage it inflicts.To  quantitate this  we need to know , how much of LV is supplied by RCA , or LCX or combination of both ? This depend on the coronary dominance .It is estimated , the bulk of the LV is supplied ( up to 75%  ) by LCA. This becomes further high in left dominant circulations . In fact , it is believed LV can never get involved in non dominant RCA occlusions. This has brought in a new terminology  called “Small inferior MI”.Inferior STEMI due to PDA  occlusion or in a co -dominant circulation is not yet studied

Apart from the above  anatomical considerations the following clinical observations  have  been made regarding inferior MI.

  • When thrombolysis was introduced , many studies  suggested the the ST elevation in inferior  leads toched the isolectric levels  in most situations even without thrombolysis.Technically, this implies spontaneous , successful thrombolysis are more common in RCA. Among the thrombolysed ,persistent ST elvation is a rare phenomenon.
  • The well known difference in the conduction defect between anterior and inferior MI  is an important contibutor for better outcome in the later.(AV blocks in inferior MI , are often transient, non progressive, supra hisian location rarely require permanent pacemakers)
  • During acute phase cardiogenic shock occurs in a minority (That too , only if RV shock is included )
  • Even in the follow up the ejection fraction in inferior MI is  almost always above  40%. In many EF is not affected at all.
  • Progressive adverse remodelling of LV is rare

When can Inferior MI be dangerous ?

Anatomical factors

Inspite of the  above  factors  inferior MI can not be taken lightly . Especially when it  extend into posterior, lateral , (Rarely anterior) segments.

While  posterior extension  is often  tolerated , lateral extension is very poorly tolerated .This is probably explained as  the extension involves the vital free wall of LV and the laplace forces could precipitate LVF. Free wall rupture is also common in this situation.

Posterior extension , predominantly involves the surface of RV which is less important hemodynamically. Of course incidence of MR  due to it’s effect on posterior mitral leaflet can be trouble some.

inferior MI ECG

High risk clinical catagories.

Out of hospital STEMI  are at  equal  risk irrespective of the territories involved  .This is because,  primary VF does not differentiate , whether  ischemia comes from RCA or LAD .

  1. In elderly , dibetics and co existing medical condtions  the the established  benign   character  of  inferior MI disappear, as  any  muscle loss  in LV has equally adverse outcome.
  2. Even though  inferior MIs are immune  to cardiogenic shock  , a equally worrisome  prolonged hypotension due to high vagal tone, bradycardia, plus or minus RVMI can create trouble. Fortunately , they respond better to  treatment. Except a few with extensive transmural RVMI outcome is good.
  3. Presence of  mechanical complications of  ventricular septal rupture , ischemic MR can bring  the mortality on par with large anterior MI.

How different is the clinical outcome of infero-posterior  MI with reference  to the  site of  coronary arterial  obstruction   ?

The sequence of  outcome  From  best to worse  : Non dominant RCA* → Dominant RCA but distal to RV branch → LCX dominant with large OMs

* It is believed   an  acute proximal  obstruction of a  non dominant RCA may not be mechanically significant, but can be electrically significant as it retains the risk of primary VF and SA nodal ischemia. The ECG changes  can be very minimal or  some times simple bradycardia is the only clue. One should be able to recognise this entity (Non dominant  RCA STEMI)  as the outcome is  excellent and these patients  would never require procedure like primary  PCI

** A inferior MI due to a dominant LCX and a large OMs have comparable outcome as that of extensive anterior MI. The ECG will reveal ST elevation in both inferior and lateral leads.

***In patients with prior CAD  and collateral dependent  multivessel disease  the  inferior anterior sub classification does not make much sense as  entire coronary circulation can be mutually interdependent.

Final message

Inferior STEMI  generally lacks the vigor  to cause extensive damage to myocardium in most situations .Further they respond better to treatment. Risk stratification of STEMI based on the location of MI has not been popular among mainstream cardiologists. This issue needs some introspection as  the costly and complex treatment modalities like primary PCI  is unwarranted in most of the low risk inferior MIs.

Related posts in my blog:

1.Why thrombolysis is more effective in RCA?

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Failed thrombolysis is an important clinical  issue  in STEMI   as  successful thrombolysis  occurs  only in  about 50-60%  of pateints . The typical criteria to define failed thrombolysis is  the  regression  of less than 50% of sum total( or maximum)  ST elevation in infarct leads.

So what do you do for these patients with failed thrombolysis ?

It depends upon the patient’s symptom, hemodynamic stability, LV dysfunction .

They  should  get one of the following .

  1. Conservative medical management  with /without CAG
  2. Repeat thrombolysis
  3. Rescue PCI
  4. CABG

Medical management is  thought to be  too inferior a  management,  many of the interventional cardiologists  do  not want to talk about . But  , there is  an important  group of patients (Not often addressed in cardiology literature)  who  technically fulfill the criteria  of failed thrombolysis  , but   still  very  comfortable , asymtomatic  and in  class 1. These patients ,  have  a strong option for continuing the conservative management .

Repeat thrombolysis does not have a consistent effect but can  be  tried in some  stable patients. CABG  can be a genuine option in few

Rescue PCI

This terminology  has become  the  glamorous one since the  catchy word  rescue is tagged in the title  itself. For most of the cardiac physicians ,  this has become the default treatment modality.This is an unfortunate perception . What  one should realise   here is  , we are  tying to rescue  the myocardium and  the patient ,   not the patient’s coronary artery !

Opening up a coronary obstruction is not synonymous with rescue .

For rescue PCI ,  to be effective it should be done within the same time window as that for thrombolysis (ie within 6 or at the most  12 hours) .This timing  is  of vital importance  for the simple reason , there will be nothing to rescue after 12 hours as most of the muscle  would be  dead. Reperfusing a dead myocardium has been shown to be hazardous in some ,  as it converts a simple  infarct into a hemorrhagic  infarct.This softens the core of the infarct and  carry a risk of rupture. Further,   doing a complex emergency  PCI  ,  in  a thrombotic milieu with   presumed  long term  benefit ,  is  a  perfect recipe for a potential  disaster.

While the above statement may be seen as pessimistic view , the optimistic cardiologist would vouch for the“Curious  open artery hypothesis” .This theory simply states , whatever be the status  of the distal myocardium ( dead or alive !)   opening an obstruction in the concerened coronary artery  will benefit the patient !

It is  huge surprise , this concept   continues to  be alive even after  repeatedly shot dead by number of very good clinical trials (TOAT, CTO limb of COURAGE etc ).

The REACT study (2004) concluded undisputed benefit of rescue PCI for failed thrombolysis  , only if the rescue was done  within  5-10 hours after the onset of symptoms.The mean time for  pain-to-rescue PCI was 414 minutes (6.5hours)

Final  message

It is fashionable to talk about time window for thrombolyis but not for PCI  .The time window for rescue PCI is an redundant issue  for many  cardiologists ! . But ,  the fact of the matter is ,  it is not . . .

The concept of time window in rescue PCI  , is as important as ,   that of  thrombolysis. Please , think twice or thrice !  if some body suggest you to do a rescue PCI in a stable patient  ,  12hours after the index event .

Important note : This rule   does not (  or need  not  ) apply for patients in cardiogenic shock  or patient ‘s with ongoing iscemia and angina.

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NSTEMI  constitutes a  very heterogeneous population .The cardiac   risk   can vary  between very low to very high .  In contrast ,  STEMI patients  carry  a high risk for  electro mechanical complication including   sudden death .They all need immediate treatment  either with  thrombolysis or PCI to open up the blood vessel  and salvage the myocardium.

The above concept , may  be true in   many situations  ,  but what we fail to recognize   is  that ,   STEMI   also  is  a heterogeneous clinico pathological  with varying risks and outcome !

Let us see briefly ,  why this  is very important  in the management of STEMI

Management of STEMI  has undergone great  change  over the past 50 years and  it is the standing example of evidence based coronary care in the modern era ! The mortality  ,  in the early era was around 30-40% . The advent of coronary care units, defibrillators, reduced the mortality to around 10-15%  in 1960 /70s . Early use of heparin , aspirin   further improved the outcome .The inhospital mortality  was greatly  reduced to a level of  7-8% in the thrombolytic  era. And ,  then  came the interventional approach, namely primary PCI ,  which is now considered the best form of reperfusion when done early by an experienced team.

Inspite of this wealth of evidence   for the   superiority  of PCI  , it is only a fraction of  STEMI patients get  primary PCI   even in some  of the  well equipped centers ( Could be as low as  15 %)

Why ? this paradox

Primary PCI   has   struggled  to establish itself  as a global  therapeutic concept  for STEMI ,   even after   20 years of it’s introduction (PAMI trial)  .  If we  attribute ,  lack of   infrastructure  , expertise are  responsible for this low utility of primary PCI , we are mistaken ! There are so many institutions , at least in developing world ,   reluctant to do primary PCI  for varied reasons.( Affordability , support system , odd hours ,and finally perceived fear of untoward complication !)

Primary PCI may be a great treatment modality , but it comes with a inherent risk related to the procedure.

In fact the early hazard could exceed the potential benefit in many of the low risk STEMI  patients !

All STEMI’s are not  same , so all does not require same treatment !

Common sense and logic would   tell us any medical condition should be risk stratified before applying the management protocol. This will enable  us to avoid applying “high risk  – high benefit”  treatments in low risk patients . It is a great surprise,  the cardiology community has extensively researched to risk stratify NSTEMI/UA   ,  it has  rarely  considered risk stratification of STEMI before  starting the treatment.

In this context , it should  be emphasized  most of the clinical trails on   primary PCI  do not address  the clinical  relevance and the  differential outcomes   in various  subsets of  STEMI .

Consider the following two cases.

Two young men with STEMI  , both present within  3  hours   after  onset of symptoms

  1. ST elevation in V1 -V6 , 1 , AVL   ,  Low blood pressure , with severe  chest pain.
  2. ST elevation in 2 ,3, AVF , hemodynamically stable , with minimal  or no  discomfort .

In the above example,   a  small inferior  MI by a distal RCA occlusion  ,  and a proximal LAD lesion jeopardising entire anterior wall , both  are  categorized as STEMI !

Do you want to advocate same treatment  for both ?  or Will you  risk stratify the STEMI and treat individually ?  (As we do in NSTEMI !)

Current guidelines , would  suggest PCI for both situations. But , logistic ,  and real world experience would clearly favor thrombolysis for the second patient .

Does that mean,  the second patient is getting an inferior modality of treatment ?

Not at all . In fact there is a strong case for PCI being inferior in these patients as the risk of the procedure may far outweigh the benefit especially if it is done on a  random basis  by  not so well experienced cath lab team.

(Note : Streptokinase  or TPA does not  vary it’s action ,  whether given by  an ambulance drive or a staff nurse or even a  cardiologist !  .In contrast ,  the infrastructure and expertise have the  greatest impact on the success and failure  of PCI )

Final message

So , it is argued the world cardiology societies(ACC/ESC etc)  need to risk stratify STEMI (Like we do in NSTEMI ) into low risk, intermediate risk and high risk categories and advice primary PCI only for high risk patients.

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 Rescue thrombolysis in acute   myocardial   Infarction  

 *Venkatesan sangareddi ,Madras medical college,Chennai.India



   Back ground  Failed thrombolysisin acute myocardial infarction occurs in 30-40% of patients. The incidence of progressive pathological remodelling and cardiac failure is high in these patients. The approach to the patient with failed thrombolysis is generally considered to be catheter based and the outcome is not clear. Bleeding can be troublesome in patients, taken for interventional procedures in the immediate post thrombolytic state. The option of repeat thrombolysis has not been studied widely and is not popular among cardiologists.

Methods:We present our experience with six patients (Age 42-56, M-6, F-0) who were thrombolysed for failed first thrombolysis. All had anterior MI and had received either urokinse or streptokinase (between four to nine hours) after the onset of chest pain. All of them had persistent ST elevation, angina not responsive to maximal doses of IV NTG and beta blockers. The initial thrombolysis was deemed to have failed. Repeat thrombolysis with streptokinase (15 lakhs) was given between 16 and 24 th hour. The clinical outcome following the second thrombolysis was rewarding. It relieved the angina, ST segment elevation came down by 50% and coronary angiogram done at 2-4 weeks showed complete IRA patency in four out of six patients. The factors responsible for failed thrombolysis is complex and multifactorial. A logical explanation from the fundamentals of clinical pharmacology would suggest that a common cause of failure of any drug is due to a inadequate first dose.

Conclusion :We conclude that repeat (Rescue) thrombolysis can be an effective medical intervention for failed thrombolysis in AMI.

Personal perspective                  

                             Repeat  thrombolysis for failed ( initial ) thrombolysis  is still   considered  a  fantasy treatment  by most of the cardiologists !  The utility and efficacy of this modality of  treatment (Rescue thrombolyis ) , will never be known to humanity , as planning  such a  study , in a large population  would  promptly be  called unethical by the modern day cardiologists.

                     While a cathlab based cardiologist  take on the lesion head on with multiple attempts  , it is an irony , poor  thrombolytic agents are given only one shot  and if failed in the first attempt,  it is doomed to be a  failure for ever.Currently,  the incidence of  failed thromolysis could be up to a whooping 50 %  .There has not been much scientific initiative  to enhance the efficacy of these drugs.

                            Common sense and logic would suggest it  is the  inadequate first dose ,  improper delivery , pharmacokinetics is   the major cause of failure of action of  a drug in clinical therapeutics.

If the first  dose is not working ,  always think about another  incremental dose if found safe to administer.

Can we increase the dose of thrombolytic agents  as we like ? Will it not increase the bleeding risk to dangerous levels ?

This is a clinical trial  question.

  • In patients with prosthetic valve thrombosis and acute pulmonary embolism we have safety data of administering of  1 lakh units for an hour for up to 48 hours.

Can  the same regimen be tried in STEMI if the initial thrombolysis has  failed  and emergency intervention is not possible  ?

Logic would say yes . Unfortunately we can’t go with logic alone in medicine .We need scientific data ( with or without logic ! ).But now ,  as we realise common sense is also a integral part of therapeutics  It is called as level 3 evidence / expert consensus by AHA/ACC .

Applying  mind , to all relevant issues ,  continuous streptokinase infusion 1 lakh/hour for 24-48 hours in patients with failed thrombolysis can indeed be an option,  especially when the patient is sinking and  no immediate catheter based intervention  possible .This study question is open to all researchers , and may be tested in a scientific setting if feasible.

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CCU’S can also save  patients with cardiogenic shock

Many of us would say ” never” or some may say “rarely” but in reality the answer is “yes it can ” slightly lower than  Primary PCI . One could save atleast  few  lives every month by  intensive medical  management alone (Inotrope, vasodilator,pacing if needed ) in any coronary care unit.

So the message here is, not offering or doing  a primary PCI in a patient with cardiogenic shock is not  synonymous with  inferior treatment or death.  After all, in the much hyped SHOCK  trial a significant no of patients survived in medical limb .

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