Posts Tagged ‘coronary care unit’

Professional competence is defined as doing things, always in the Interest of patients. It’s generally believed small hospitals are not competent enough to treat cardiac emergencies . . .Do you agree with that ? No, Its largely a myth . Do you know there is a absolute  lack of proficiency  threatening to plague our country’s coronary care system. ? It’s the professional  Incompetence by the space age, star hospitals (mis)managed by masters of the noble business. None (am I right ?) of this hospitals either monitor or publish the outcome of their treatment.

Backed by pseudo scientific data , amplified by unrealistic expectations of ill Informed patients , some  hospitals are avoiding Initial emergency treatment of acute MI  , instead they waste time ( load DAPT ofcourse !) in securing the finance  for the costly Invasive procedures or refer them out of their premises if they can’t afford for it.In the ensuing emotional and financial melee many of the ill-fated patients lose vital  time window of thrombolysis as well ! and carry risk of fatality or damaged myocardium.

Every stake holder in the current  coronary care system simply assume the enforced modality  must be far superior because they administer the most modern and costly treatment suggested by few high intensity cared clinical trials originating from west. The wisemen who run the corporate hospitals  never realise medical competence and outcome is not entirely defined by science. Their primitive cognition wouldn’t allow to think beyond business equations either.

Please believe me, time and again, I have witnessed patients reaching Government hospitals  after being shunned away by  big (Some times even medium sized )  hospitals who boast themself only as PCI enabled care. Even if they want to lyse they stock only the Tenekteplace .

I think tragedy  is a lesser word to describe the scenario , where a distressed family is trying to arrange  for a Rs30,000 shot of Tenekteplace when thirty times cheaper still equally efficacious (Rs 1000 Streptokinase)  is concealed from their visibility .The Govt should urgently look into instances of large private hospitals avoiding Govt insurance scheme patients  even in  cardiac emergencies ! To label our poor patients as unaffordable ones is a outright misnomer, rather its the rich hospitals that are “not affordable” to lose profit and treat our countrymen , in a cost effective manner is the reality !

Who is Poor ? You decide.

Two forbidden things in coronary care

 1.Cajoling  and manoeuvring a distressed  family for a primary PCI as a routine treatment  hyping its beneficial effect and underplaying the true advantages of thrombolysis in largely technical jargons is the current norm in most coronary care units.

2.Another issue is , after confused confabulations with the duty medical officer,  if a rare patient family  choose the option of thrombolysis , comes the next googly*.  Many noble minded hospitals do not stock the low-cost and equally efficacious thrombolytic agent and offering  only the costly option to the anxious families when the myocardium is on fire.

Hospitals that  practice these two coronary protocols  need to be shamed and labeled as  “Coronary Incompetent  ” In spite of having 24/7 cath labs.  (Realise , they are just like  any remote rural hospitals , at least  the later can’t be faulted  as they don’t  withhold  a  reperfusion strategy  !)

Final message

I think , mindless proliferation of cath lab based cardiac care , which follow this theme , ie  “Thrombolysis incapable but PCI capable “ are  biggest threat to coronary care in our country ! For the best coronary care for any country ,what we need is efficient prehospital thrombolysis team .We have conveniently forgotten the great study of CAPTIM wherein the ambulance drivers replicated the same effect of primary PCI performed by highly trained cardiologists in modern labs.

In India,  primary health centers which is within  few km reach of entire population  can be designated as static ambulance equivalents  with basic resuscitation facility . If a multipurpose health worker can be trained to lyse, with remote supervision that will accomplish  90 % of what the cathlab guys can achieve ! Selective shifting is suffice.

Postample :  Ofcourse, not doing  pPCI for high risk or complicated STEMI is unscientific and we need to have proper consenting and referring frame-work for such patients.

Counter point : One of my colleagues asked me ? Why do I enjoy attacking the established scientific practices ?  May be I have a problem , yes, but  I think in a  true medical democracy we have right to debate anything , absolute truth is a ongoing journey !



*Googly:  An unplayable ball delivered to a batsman in the game of  cricket.

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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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