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Atherosclerosis   remains the number one cause for all vascular disease of human beings. It probably  kills more  patients than all other causes put together .

Modern medicine has never conquered the disease. How  the vascular system ages and why some develop premature atherosclerosis remains largely speculative. While it is true , we have identified some major risk factor for development and progression of the atherosclerosis  , patients with out any of those risk factors do develop severe atherosclerosis !So researchers sought to look for some other risk factors . There lies the difficulty  and irony .

We always tend to the research with the affected population .When we know millions of people with the so called risk factors live comfortably , there lies an opportunity  to  analyse why they are protected against the onslaught of atherosclerosis .It is always convenient to blame it or bless it on the genetic predisposition .But we need to look beyond that .Of course  . every genetic expression has to  manifest phenotypically .

While the search for all those hidden secrets has to continue , we should also realize in pursuit of breakthrough we some times waste our energy in false targets  for too many decades !

The reality as on today is ,  there is no reliable  &  undisputed drug available to arrest atherosclerosis  (Some would love to call statin so . . . )

While  our basic science colleagues struggle  in molecular  factories and biological models in pursuit of answer against  atherosclerosis , our elite  cardiac physicians   carry on with the cosmetic touches over this   progressive disease  in  sophisticated cath labs.

Let us hope  man prevails over nature . . .

A cartoon , Just for laughs . . .

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                                       Aortic dissection is a complex cardiac problem and a  killer disease .Even though it is a fancier to make a  diagnosis  of aortic dissection in any intractable chest (or back )pain   the  most common error  committed by physicians is failure to recognise it  .

Is it possible to diagnose or atleast suspect aortic dissection  by a rapid screening biochemical test ?

Yes,  it seems so

  1. D Dimer , a product released consequent to  intravascular thrombosis is elevated  by >500ng in most of the patients with dissection.
  2. Aortic smooth muscle heavy chain estimation is the other option.

aortic-dissection-d-dimer

Read this original article by Patrick Ohlmaan

Click on the link

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/530783_print   Courtesy Medscape

 What happens once a diagnosis of aortic dissection is made ?

It is not a great achievement to make a diagnosis of aortic dissection.It is only, a  beginning of a long  and often   tedious decision making process . A real tough task , on hand for the cardiothoracic  surgeons. It is a team work , needs the interaction of cardiologists, radiologists and cardiac surgeons to bring an optimal outcome.

The major issues are

  1. Never try to  manage this problem in a small hospital or facility. Always send the patient to a teaching hospital ( of course , not all teaching hospital can  tackle  this   either , so enquire about their expertise ! )
  2. No credits for making a simple diagnosis of dissection.One has to exactly locate the entry point and exit points if any.
  3. Aortic root and arch  involvement  is of major importance in determining the modality of therapy.
  4. Debaky classification is not  of academic interest ! it has a purpose . Generally type A dissection(Proximal ) require emergency surgery
  5. Differentiating true lumen from false lumen is of critical importance , it needs a meticulous transesophageal echocardiogram.( Some times one may , never  be  sure which is true and which is false lumen  , funnily .in descending aortic  dissection it may never matter for the patient !) Self healing of many dissections with thrombus is possible. 
  6. Controlling hypertension with powerful parentral antihypertenive drugs (Labetalol . . . ideally )  is vital.
  7. Side branch  involvement (spiral dissections) especially arch vessels and renal arteries  make this entity much more complex
  8. Isolated distal dissections and some low risk proximal dissections  can indeed  be managed conservatively(Also called non surgical ! ) Some cardiologists or even institutions  hesitate to  put a aortic dissection with medical management .They feel it is inferior form of treatment . . . but realise , it is not  necessarily so !)

 

What is the other bichemical marker for disscetion ?

The aortic smooth Muscle Myosin Heavy Chain was proposed as a useful marker for diagnoisng dissection.

Diagnostic Implications of Elevated Levels of Smooth-Muscle Myosin Heavy-Chain Protein in Acute Aortic Dissection: The Smooth Muscle Myosin Heavy Chain Study  Toru Suzuki, MD; Hirohisa Katoh, PhD; Yasuhiro Tsuchio, MD;  Annals of internal medicine 3 October 2000 | Volume 133 Issue 7 | Pages 537-541

 The abstract from annlas of internal medicine follows Readers from India can get the full text article free

  1. http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/abstract/133/7/537 
  2. http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/133/7/537
  

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