Posts Tagged ‘jama’

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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Scientifically ,  the  indication for coronary revascularisation   should be  based on following

  1. Patient’s  symptom ( more specifically angina , dyspnea is less important !)
  2. Prov0kable  ischemia  ( A significantly positive stress test )
  3. Signifcant LV dysfunction with  documented  viable myocardium &  residual ischemia
  4. A revascularisation eligible coronary anatomy * TVD/Left main/Proximal LAD etc ( *Either 1, 2 or 3 should be  present  in addition )
  5. All emergency PCI during STEMI /High risk NSTEMI

Practically ,

A CAD  patient  may fulfill  “Any of the above 5 or  “None of the above 5” ,  but ,  if   a coronary obstruction  was  revealed  by coronary angiogram  and if he  fulfils The 6th criteria , he becomes  eligible for  revascualrisation

6th criteria

If the patient has  enough monetary   resources (by self  ) or by  an  insurance company  to take care of PCI /CABG *

*The sixth  criteria overrides all other criteria in many of the cath labs .Of course , there are few genuine ones still  fighting hard , to keep the commerce out ,  from contaminating cardiology !

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Drug eluting stents : A slap on the face of Evidence based cardiology . . .

Click the BMJ link or read below



It is often said science is sacred and unfortunately we forget ,  science is not a heavenly creation and it is the creation of scientist of varying grades of integrity fueled by the vested interest of medical industry . It has been a almost a daily affair , some of the devices and drugs are recalled or found to be unsafe on patients.

Now the big cat has come out .The Drug eluting stent has fallen from Hero to Zero in a short span of 5 years. It was projected to have zero percent restenosis in 2002 . And now we realize it is Zero percent truth.

What has started as anecdotal reports of late stent thrombosis has indeed become an epidemic in all DES patients. The five studies that has been published in the NEJM this month (March 2007) has convincingly proved how unsafe these stents are in most of the coronary population .

Millions of patients in whom this stent was implanted will carry an impending stent thrombosis and possibly an SCD . Who is to take care of them ?

The DES story is a clear cut case of getting premature approval for a dangerous form of treatment inside human coronary arteries.

It is amazing how the scientist’s eyes are shut by the illusion of knowledge and lure of wealth. How foolish they were to think drug which was administered via the stent will selectively prevent vascularisation and leave the normal endothelium intact . Now they realized , one should not suppress the endothelial growth around the stent and got the fundamental point wrong. Which was the key reason for the astonishing episodes of late stent thrombosis. When we play with biology of nature we have to be little more careful .God has created man and his heart for over a million years . One can not alter it by a 6 month follow up study of DES .

When ICDs were exposed last year , of similar disastrous outcome they were recalled and explanted . How are we going to unstent the millions of coronary arteries ?

Somewhere along the line the medical professionals have lost the battle against the Wall street and NASDAQ . Or how else we can explain repetition of similar events.

The wages for the modern technology , the patients have to pay a heavy price.

Let us all hope common man with common sense will reign supreme over the sixth sense of the uncommon man . . .

“Ignorance is better than illusion of knowledge”

Dr Venkatesan Sangareddi MD , Assistant Professor of cardiology , Madras medical college Chennai, India

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                                            The growth of medical science has been phenomenal .It is estimated , the quantum of break throughs  and development  in the  last  50 years  is   nearly equal  to  2000 years of evolution of our  knowledge  put together.  Along with this growth , came the  unavoidable misuse , and abuse of medical science. This  is mainly due to contamination of medicine with commerce . Federal drug authority (FDA) and it’s variants  were formed in all countries to monitor the proper usage of  these technologies for the benefit of mankind. It has an authority to ban a drug or device  , if it is found to bring more injury or side effects  than benefit !

But , unfortunately there is no legal authority to ban an  an  investigation  which is  potentially  or (really  harmful )

or  used  extensively without any valid purpose .

The list of such investigation is increasing in every speciality 

In  cardiology

  • Doing a Troponin assay in patients wuth classical STEMI
  • MDCT in general population
  • Pro BNP in all suspected cardiac  failure
  • Routine C reactive protein for CAD
  • Central venous catheters for all pateints with shock.

Is there a case for banning an investigation (Like banning a drug) for the benefit of  our patients ?

Looking superficially , it  may seem  ironical. But we realise many seemingly  innocuous investigations are responsible for uncontrolled misery for many patients.

This especially true in people who throng the wellness clinic (Also called master health check up)

A incidentally high C – reactive protein   can lead on to forearm blood flow assessment of endothelial dysfunction and carotid intimal plaque  that could  lead onto carotid stents ! and life long anticoagulation , and an  excess INR and sudden cerebral bleed and death !

This is one sample story  in one particular speciality

There is a definite case for banning ( Either total or partial)  some of the questionable investigations  which are done routinely !

Just because these investigation do not have any  physical , visible , adverse reactions like a drug , it should not be allowed to be abused  .The consequence of  false positive results of these investigations could be terrible and worse than the real disese itself !

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The irony of medicine is unlimited !  100 years of active clinical  research   failed  to find a specific cure for the rhino virus mediated common cold.In fact  US Govt stopped funding for this .

While ,   complete cure is possible  for many of the cancers, especially hematological ones !


In medicine there are thousands  of disorder  which have no cure ! 

Cancers ,  constitute  only a  fraction of  them !

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Let us not forget the basics !

  • HT management has been made  easier with the availability of  many  good drugs , at the same time it has become a complex  issue with as many classification and guidelines.
  • The management of HT has evolved over the decades. Now we have realised  HT  is not a simple number game . Reducing the blood pressure to target levels is not  sufficient and is not the primary aim !.
  • In fact we now know controlling the numbers alone is never going to work  , combined risk factor reduction is of paramount importance.
  • HT per se is less lethal but when it combines with hyperlipidemia and diabetes or smoking  it becomes  aggressive.The blood lipids  especially the LDL molecule  enjoy the high pressure environment  ,   penetrate and invade the vascular endothelium.
  • ASCOT  LLA  study has taught us,   for blood pressure reduction to  be effective and reduce CAD  events one has to reduce thier  lipid levels also.So , for every patient with HT there is not only a target BP but also a target LDL level .



Final message

The tip for better vascular  health is  , all  hypertensive patients should keep their lipids to optimal levels and all hyperlipidemia patients should keep their BP as low as possible .

“Keep your LDL  as low as  your diastolic blood pressure  and  let us  keep it around 70 -80

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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  hereby !
  •  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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