Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

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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We  are at the mercy  of  the three major coronary arteries (LAD,LCX,RCA) that sustain our life . Their  job is clear cut  .It has to perfuse   about 300 Grams of   live bundle of energy  for  an average of 6-7 decades.

What are the hurdles it  faces ,  how it overcomes these obstacles  forms the fascinating story of   “survival  of  human heart”

When coronary blood supply is confronted with a sudden compromise  as in ACS  ,  often the heart has little  time to respond . Hence the damage  and risk of death is  more. Even here there are lots of safety mechanisms and natural lytic process that limit the loss of life to less than 30 %  of all STEMIs. This implies nature protects against the death in 70 % of individuals and help  them  to reach hospital.*

*Among those  who reach hospital , we  the cardiologists  try to reduce the  mortality to about 6-7 % (20% without treatment ) with all  those hi-tech gadgets .It is a  different story and will be addressed elsewhere .

When it comes to  chronic insults ,  the heart has a unique potential to  stage  long haul battles. It has many tricks  under its  sleeves when challenged in a slow fashion.

The main weapons are two

1. Coronary collateral circulation.

2. Ischemic preconditioning.

Here is a patient who fights his life even after all his  three coronary arteries   totally blocked and surviving with one of the branches of left main -Ramus intermedius .

If you have thought his RCA was the savior  you are  mistaken  .

To every one’s   surprise  his  RCA was awful  as well !

He had angina which was  troublesome  but manageable .Was able to live a life with acceptable standards (Indian standard )  After the angiogram he  received  CABG.  A turbulent post operative course ensued  due to various reasons . He  struggled but   fully recovered  . . .  and  ultimately  reached the  previous  standard  of life !

Final message

Modern cardiology is all about not trusting  powers of nature .

But youngsters should realise the enormous potential of those invisible powers.It may sound philosophical , but please  remember  . . .after all . . .  philosophy  is nothing but  search for truths. Atleast believe in them  once in a while !

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Medicine is an art , evolving art to be precise .We need to use our sixth , if not , the  seventh sense !  constantly to  improve the quality of life our clients  -The human beings.

If only we learn to think right  . . . Always right . . . we can bring the heaven of health to the earth

This book  fascinates .

Click for a  preview in Google.com


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  1. Do 64slice MDCT  in all patients who has  a coronary event and follow it up with catheter based CAG.
  2. Use liberally the new biochemical marker ,  serum  B-naturetic peptide (BNP) to diagnose cardiac failure in lieu of basal auscultation.
  3. Advice  cardiac resynchronisation therapy in all patients  who are in class 4 cardiac failure with a wide qrs complex .
  4. As it is may be considered a  crime to administer empirical  heparin, do ventilation perfusion scan in all cases with suspected pulmonary embolism.
  5. Do serial CPK MB and troponin levels in all patients with well  established  STEMI .
  6. Open up all occluded coronary arteries irrespective  of symptoms and muscle viability.
  7. Consider  ablation of pulmonary veins as an  initial strategy in  patients with recurrent idiopathic AF. If it is not feasible  atleast occlude their left atrial appendage with watch man  device.
  8. Never tell  your patients   the  truths  about the  diet , exercise &  lifestyle modification (That can  cure most of the early hypertension) . Instead encourage the  use of  newest ARBs  or even  try direct renin antoagonists   to treat all those patients in  stage 1 hypertension.
  9. Avoid regular heparin in acute coronary syndromes   as  it  is a disgrace to use it  in today’s world. Replace all prescription of heparin with  enoxaparine  or  still better ,  fondaparinux  whenever  possible.
  10. Finally never discharge  a  heftily  insured patient   until  he completes all the  cardiology investigations  that are available in your hospital  .

Coming soon :  10 more ways to  increase cost of cardiology care . . .beyond common man’s reach

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When  a doctor is confronted by serious  doubt  ,  what will be the outcome for the patient  ?

Can  doubting  be beneficial for a patient ?  . It seems so ,  according to  EBM which  stresses   about statistical outcome at every turn of events in a  patient who  is critically  ill .

Is  something ,  always  better than  nothing   ?   Our  limbic  system tends to think so .  It  may not be true. But  in  dire situations ,   many  things  (Proven , unproven)  need to  be tried  however doubtful it ‘s  efficacy  may be  .This is  akin to an  emergency in an  airplane. Even here there need to be a logic.

Then ,this question  arises . How do we make  sure ,  we have a  dire situation on hand  ?

This is the key issue ,  in  the  decision making  for the   critically ill patients .  It  needs  experience ,  only experience !  Though the principle of uncertainty  is the fundamental rule in medicine ,   EBM  aims to bring some degree of certainty in medical therapeutics.

ebm evidence pci coronary

Benefits of doubting in coronary care unit.

In  a  sinking patient  with cardiogenic  shock  , try  the maximum treatment . Even if , the patient is  in severe shock  , take him to the  cath lab ,  try  open the coronary artery . Give the benefit of doubt  to him even though the chances of reviving him is less than 10%.

Risk of doubting in Coronary care unit.

A.Elderly STEMI  with SHT,(Arriving late ,  with  an unknown time  window  after an MI ) To thrombolyse or not ?  . There is  no benefit of doubt here.  Do not thrombolyse. Here , apply  the benefit of doubt against thrombolysis .

B. Chest pain with  LBBB (Thought to be new onset LBBB ) don’t ever rush to thrombolyse.  Wait for the enzyme result . Don’t try to thrombolyse your doubt , instead  thrombolyse the  confirmed thrombus !

C. Patient with persistent ST elevation following thrombolysis ,in an  otherwise asymptomatic and stable patient. Don’t  pass on  ” your doubt ” of salvaging   at least  some myocardium  by rescue PCI .Rescue  should be done before death. You can not resuscitate  dead myocytes.

Final message

The concept of   giving  the  benefits of doubt  to the patient   is a widely prevalent practice  in medicine .This concept is alive  and popular , not because it has proved effective, but because of the primitive   human perception and cognition  , namely “Something is better than nothing ” !

Common sense and logic would suggest , whenever  there is  a benefit  for doubting there would be a  equal (  or  even  more ) unmeasured  hazards and risks . This  becomes  especially  true ,  when   a   physician makes  a therapeutic move  based on doubting than on conviction .

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                                                    Drugs are poisons , whenever it is administered without valid purpose. it can enter human body  in many ways (Oral, intravenous, percutaneous etc ) And now we have another route namely intracoronary !

                                                   In quest for prevention of restenosis, many of the anti cancer drugs are now delivered directly inside the coronary arteries .These drugs are secreted  like a sustained release  tablet from the drug coated stents.These drugs are expected to prevent restenosis within the stented segment.But, after years of  intense debate and research  , we realised that ,  drugs  eluted from the stent  could damage the distal coronary vascular bed and coronary microcirculation.( And thus came the epidemic of acute stent thrombosis ! )

                                                The tender and sensitive coronary microvasculature  is constantly exposed to  these  powerful anticancer and immmunosuppresive  drugs .It is a great surprise , no body thought of  this dangerous drug -coronary artery interaction ! It required the genius of Renu virmani and others to point out this.

But still , the cardiology community by and large , fails to consider  this an important issue.This is proven by the fact, usage of DES is  still increasing  and used mainly as an off label indication.

Read this land mark article from circulation




Questions that need to be answered

  • What is the long term effects of drugging a coronary artery ?
  • Is no reflow or slow flow  more common after DES , because of the adverse drug reaction in the distal vascular bed ?
  • If a patient  with  DES  undergoes a CABG later what  would be  the impact of the  drug on the graft ? Will the functional vasodilatation   affected ?

Final message

                                  A drug , to get a legal clearance it has to undergo  hundreds of rigorous tests . Finally it is cleared for that  specific indication for which it is tested  .Just because a drug is cleared for one purpose ( Paclitaxel for malignancy ) it does not mean it is safe to use for any other  purpose for which it is deemed to be useful . Exactly the  opposite is happening   in the  the field of interventional cardiology . No body wondered to think what would be the effect of these drugs on the normal coronary endothelial cells and vasculature.Is it not a crime ,  without analysing this particular issue  , dozens of drug eluting stents have been released in the market . And now,  sounds of crying  foul is heard world wide !

Let us thank  , the so called negative forces in cardiology  for making this an  issue . In science ,  the watch dogs should bark  at  times of danger not wag the tail !

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                                                 It is now mandatory for all  journals  to declare the  conflict  of interest by the authors  who are involved in medical research .The purpose apparently is to make all transactions or links  between the researchers and their funding agencies transparent .Even major journals  do not go beyond this . Some ensure it , to appear in the first page of  the article.

 What does the the journals tend to  convey to the reader by publishing the conflicts of interest ?

  •  Does it  mean the article in question  may have a bias or indeed have a bias  ?  and readers are warned  hear by !
  •  Do they send across a message  that the  article may not be really a genuine one and the judgement is left to the the consumers of the articles ?

How often a journal article is rejected purely on the basis of  conflicts of interest ?

Most of  journal articles are rejected  for poor methodology, statistical analysis and so forth .We don’t know how often a paper is rejected  due to a conflict issue per se.If this could happen ,bulk  of drug trials would face a torrid time from the editors.

Why , even the leading scientific  journals never indulge in grading the significance of the conflict ?

Here is an example . 





The much hyped drug trial on Hypertension “ACCOMPLISH”  was published in the  world’s most prestigious medical journal recently .It  left  it to the readers to  have their  own assessment  on the conflict issue.

  The consequence of not , grading and investigating  about the conflicts could have  serious  global health  implications both financially and academically .

 This study was designed, formulated, completed and published  with a single hidden aim of neutralising the land mark trial  of ALLHAT which recommended diuretics as a first line drug in HT.Apparently diuretics are very  cheap  , effective  generic drugs.

 Is it a scientific rule  that  the  latest evidence  ,  should always prevail over the older evidence ?

No. Science can never have such a rule ! The question is how good and genuine is the evidence.
Just because an evidence is current , it does not  attain a scientific sanctity !

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