Posts Tagged ‘nejm’

One of the greatest medical sermon of our times  is   “Doctors must   constantly update their knowledge , Continuing medical  education is as sacred as their profession  !  If you are not updating your knowledge you cease to a doctor “

It is fashionable , but true  to state  modern medicine lacks humane  care . Modern medicine  is  challenged by a huge  technological ,  commercial  onslaught  where common sense takes  the back seat

Hence , doctors need to renew not only  their  academic competence   but also  their ethical  fitness  every  year !

Aggression  could be the other  name for  modern medical care . For every  new  invention , treatment   or guideline that  is  approved  an equal number  is shelved after few months or years  for safety reasons.

Bulk of  medical updates  for  current age physicians  is nothing , but asking   them to forget  all those wrong things that has been meticulously uploaded in their brains in the recent past  ( Recall the classical story of drug eluting stents )

If this is the  case . . . then  . . .  what for  we  are  updating ?   and  for what  we are  learning and forgetting  ?  and  . . . how frequent we need to forget ?  Of course  , there is a big chunk of   human tribe  who  can never master the art of forgetting ! Some mistakes are permanently etched in their terra byte hard disks .

Is there a place  for backdating and discontinuing  medical  education  ?

What  man- kind needs  at times of  medical  crisis  ,  is  not  the current  treatment  but the correct  treatment    .It is our duty  to  find  all those  trustworthy  drugs  & treatment modalities  that were  sent  to  the gallows by the modern medical forces   for various reasons !

If  some of  the gems in  medicine are  left behind in  past  “time domain”  ,  it is  mandatory  for us  to go  back in time and   catch it , adopt it and disseminate it !

Further ,  whenever  the  hyped   “medical updating sessions ”  turns out to be  synonymous with adding nonsense (It is  becoming all too common these days   !) we should resist   it by all means !

For many . . . Hippocrates and his medicine sounds dirty now !

If  only we back-date  our knowledge   .  .  .

Todays  youngsters  can learn a secret that liver enlargement can be diagnosed easily  with their  hands ,  without  waiting for a  CT scan report !

If only we back-date  our   knowledge  . . .

We can realise  Aminophylline can save so many  lives of cardiac  failure  , which  our newer inotropic agents are struggling to accomplish .

If only we  back- date  our knowledge  . . .

We can calmly manage  acute MI with lignocaine  even in a country side  .  Amiodarone unfairly replaced  this  efficient  anti  VT  molecule  for no academic reasons !

If only we back- dat our knowledge  . . .

We  can  advice simple non pharmacological intervention for  stage 1 HT   than prescribing the  glamorous  sartan molecules  form a  multinational  ARB shoppe.

If only we back- date our knowledge  . . .

We can  promptly recognise  cardiac failure  without  ordering  for the error prone   BNP . Back dating also  helps us to under stand  that post infarct angina is a  glaring sign  for presence of   viable myocardium  and prevent us from undertaking a  2000 $ PET  excursion !

If only we back- date our knowledge  . . .

We can  send  all our uncomplicated , asymptomatic   STEMI  patients ( in class 1 )  straight to  their  home rather than to cath lab  play grounds !

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The review published in the prestigious NEJM seems to suggest

PCI  , the most  commonly  performed  therapeutic cardiac intervention  may  result in  more  myocardial  infarction in the community  than  the deadly atherosclerosis itself.

Can it be true in any  stretch of imagination ?

Yes , it seems so . But the only issue  is the  criteria   used to define MI  .

Comments are welcome on this article .

You won’t get the full text article free  .Try to get it from your library .It is worth the time spent  !


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This article is in response to the prevalent belief  about  primary PCI for STEMI   endorsed by world cardiology forums. (Caution: A highly personalized version)

Time window in STEMI

  • Is the window half-opened  or half closed ?
  • Is it open at all ?
  • Or ,does it open only for primary PCI  ,and tend to close down  bluntly for thrombolysis

Modern medicine   grew faster than our thoughts .We have witnessed the audacity of advising  arm-chair treatment  for MI  till later half of   last century . Now we are talking about  air dropping of patients   over the  cath lab  roofs  for primary PCI.

Still ,we have not conquered the STEMI. While ,  we have learnt to “defy  deathin many patients  with cardiogenic shock , we continue to lose patients(“Invite death “)  in  some innocuous forms  of ACS due to procedural  complications  and inappropriate ( rather ignorant !) case selection.

Note : The ignorance  is not in   individual physician mind ,   it is prevalent in the whole cardiology knowledge pool.

The  crux of the issue for modern medicine is ,  how to reduce risk  in patients who are at  high risk and how not to convert a low risk patient into a high risk patient by the frightening medical gadgets.

In other  words ,  arm chair treatment for STEMI was  not (Still it is not !) a dustbin management . It has a potential to save  70 lives  out of 100. What many would  consider it as  ,  nothing but  the natural history of MI .

Medical management of STEMI is ridiculous !

That’s what a section of  cardiologists try to project by distorting the already flawed evidence base in cardiology. Some think it is equal  to no treatment. Here we fail to realise, even doing none has potential to save 70 lifes out of 100 in STEMI who reach the hospital.

Out of the  remaining , 10 lives   are saved by aspirin heparin (ISIS 2) and the concept of coronary  care . Another  7  lives are saved by thrombolysis (GUSTO,GISSI) . PCI  is shown to save saves one more life (PAMI).The remaining 6-7 % will die in CCU  irrespective of what we do .

Of course , now medical management has vastly improved since those days  .  A  thrombolysed ,  heparinsed ,  aspirinised ,  stanised  with adequately antagonized   adrenergic ,  angiotensin system   and   a proper coronary care ( That takes care electrical  short-circuiting  of heart)   will score  over interventional approach in vast majority of STEMI patients.

Now comes the real challenge . . .

When those 70 patients who are likely to survive  , “even a arm-chair treatment“, and the 20 other patients  who will  do a wonderful recovery with CCU care ,  enter  the cath lab  some times in wee hours of morning  . . .what happens  ?

What are the chances  of   a patient  who would otherwise be saved by an arm-chair treatment be  killed by vagaries of  cath lab  violence  ?(With due apologies ,statistics reveal  for every competent cath-lab   there are at least  10  incompetent  ones  world over !)

In the parlance of criminology , a hard core criminal may escape from  legal or illegal shoot out  but an innocent should  not die in cross fire , similarly ,  a cardiogenic shock patient with recurrent  VF  is  afford to lose his  life , but it is  a major medical crime to  lose a simple branch vessel  STEMI (PDA,OM,RCA )  to die in the cath lab,  whom in all probability  would have survived  the arm chair treatment.

Why this pessimistic view against primary PCI  ?

Yes, because  it  has potential to save  many lives  !

Time and again ,  we have  witnessed  lose of   many lifes  in many  popular hospitals in  India ,  where a   low risk MI  was  immediately  converted  to a high risk MI  after an primary  PCI with number of complications .

I strongly believe I have saved 100s of patients  with  low risk MIs by not  doing  for primary  PCI in the last  two decades.

*The argument that PCI confers better LV function and longterm  beneficial effect is also not very convincing for low risk MIs .This will be addressed separately

The demise of comparative efficacy research.

Primary PCI is superior to thrombolysis  : It is agreed , it may be  fact in academic sense .

Experience has taught us , academics rarely succeeds in the bed side.

“superiority studies can never be equated  with comparable efficacy”

Only the  questions remain . . .

  • Where  is comparative efficacy  studies in STEMI ?(Read NEJM article )
  • Why we have not developed a risk based model  when formulating guidelines for   primary PCI ?
  • Is primary PCI for a PDA /D1/OM infarct worth same as PCI for left main ?
  • Is high volume center guarantee  best outcomes ?

Who is preventing comparative efficacy studies ?

Primary PCI : Still  struggling !

This study from the archives  of internal medicine tells   us , we are still scratching  the tips  of  iceberg (Iceberg  ? or Is it something else ?)  of  primary  PCI

Even a  pessimistic approach can be  more scientific  than a optimistic  !

When WHO can be influenzed and make a pseudo emergency pandemic  and pharma companies  make a quick 10 billion bucks  ,  Realise how easy  it is  for the   smaller ,  mainstream cardiology literature  to be  hijacked and contaminated .

Final message

Why we reverently follow the time window for thrombolysis,  while  we rarely apply it for PCI ?   This is  triumph of glamor over truth . The open artery hypothesis remains   in a  hypothetical state with no solid proof  for over 2o years since it was proposed.

Apply your mind in every  patient , do a conscious decision  to either thrombolyse  ,  PCI or none . All the three are  equally powerful approaches in tackling a STEMI , depending upon the time they present .Remember , the third modality of therapy comes free of cost !

Never think ,   just because  some one  has  an access to a sophisticated cath lab 24/7   , has a iberty to overlook the  concept of time window  !

Remember  you can’t  resuscitate   dead myocytes , however advanced your enthusiasm and   interventions are !

Realise , common sense is the most uncommon sense in this hyped up human infested planet.

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Which you think is the most important journal in cardiology ?

  • JACC ?
  • Circulation ?
  • American journal of cardiology ?
  • American heart journal ?
  • Heart rhythm ?
  • European heart journal ?
  • The Heart  ?
  • Journal of invasive cardiology ?
  • NEJM ?
  • Lancet ?

None of the above  . . . is the right answer !

Probably,  the best journal  that is going to have the  greatest impact in cardiology practice in the future  could be  this  . . .

 Unfortunately  most  cardiologists are unaware of   this journal . The need for this journal , that  too from most respected Circulation family , will vouch for its importance in the current era  of  cardiology  that is driven more by the market forces than by the academics.

Click here  to reach  journal

Journal  Highlights

  • This  journal is 3 year old , and most of the medical colleges   do not subscribe to this.
  • None of the 100  cardiologists  who were questioned , were unaware of such a journal.
  • Even those who read this journal often term as boring  , academic and not practical !


The Circulation team which  started this journal  with  only one purpose  . . .that is ,  auditing the uncontrolled  proliferation of  pseudoscientific literature without proper quality assessment and dubious outcomes. Three cheers to the circualtion team for publishing this journal and let us propogate the importance of this publication.

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When we get contaminated with excess  knowledge , we lose our ability to think !   &  Common sense is the casuality . . .

Human beings differ from other forms of life by their sixth sense . Our planet is  few billion years old . Life came into existence over a million years ago .Our life has  evolved over many  thousands of years .The average life span of  human race   is  75 years . We need to realise , our life constitutes  only a fraction of our planet’s life (<.0000001% ) . A  may fly , which lives a life of  less than a  day ,   does it in style  , looking for the light  throughout  the night ,  says good bye ,  to earth by morning  leaving  it  unharmed . Actually ,  in terms of time , the life of the fly is  just a  fraction less than  human life span , when compared  to  our planet’s life !

When these children are  longing for food , some of  earthly humans go to  spend millions for  obesity surgery ! That is  the progress of knowledge driven society . . .

It is  extremely common to  experience the following  scenario  in any corporate hospitals of  both developing and developed country .A   uninsured  or half insured !  person is  refused entry into a hospital even for an  emergency care  while a wealthy person is lying comfortably watching TV in a five star suit of the same hospital after an inappropriate coronary angioplasty for  an   innocuous   lesion of his heart !

The irony is ,  in this short span  of  earthly life  ,  we want to prevail over the nature and conquer the planet . God is watching  this human  behavior silently . And he is smiling  . . .

With all our knowledge base ,  modern science  have done the maximum possible  damage to our  planet  .We have made many lives extinct. If  we  tend to  think , with the help of  6th sense  we can become immortal , it would be the ultimate foolishness. When every one of us ,  is  obsessed with our own  health  , we are deaf  to  the silent cries  of  our beloved planet earth .

Now , all of a sudden we realise all the accumulated knowledge & development has actually worked against us. We find our knowledge is dissociating our thoughts   and now , we are fighting  vigorously  over acquiring the rights to damage our planet  .

So it seems ,  the more we learn,  less wisdom we have  ! We may need to  learn important lessons  of living  from  all those  species   which  do not  boast to have  the  6th sense  !

Read a related article , excellent one published in British medical journal  nearly 2 decades ago

Knowledge disease BMJ. 1993 December 18; 307(6919): 1578.

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Pessimism, from the Latin pessimus (worst), is a state of mind which negatively colors the perception of life, especially with regard to future events.

Understanding pessimism is not that simple  . Some people argue  optimism   represents a strong mind while  a pessimism  is the domain of the weak . But it is not necessarily true.  Both pessimist and optimist are unreal , and playing the dangerous game of predicting the future. So realism is the answer .

In this era of information highways , commercial exploitation of science ,  our thought process is grossly determined by our perception of events.We hardly have an intention or time to analyse our thought process.

  • An optimist  ( Rather , unregulated optimist ! ) is a person who welcomes  any growth good or bad.*
  • A pessimist  is  a  person who welcomes only good growth.*

So how to identify good growth ? That is the million dollar question!

  • Many of the  optimists may not  bother about the final outcome of a treatment *
  • A pessimist bothers only about that .
  • An optimist  rarely asks questions, blindly accepts every thing !
  • A pessimist never believes any thing !

Actually the fundamental principle of scientific medicine lies in proving the null hypothesis null and void.Any treatment is useless until proved other wise .  So pessimist can be argued to follow true science , while  many of  the hardcore  optimists are blind believers ..

*It may be  a harsh   way of  interpreting an optimist  but  uncontrolled optimism  has played havoc in our  patients like many of the failed treatments (Some of them released prematurely into patient domain   has  killed many lives  . Power of positive thinking should be within the  realms of scientific feasibility !

So in  our  journey   to  conquer human health ,   we   may  proceed with  an optimistic mind and  a pessimistic eyes !

This understanding is all the more important in this era of contaminated science .It is a well known fact ,  now last 50 years of  planet earth has inflicted the maximum damage  to ourselves  than our ancestors did in 5000 years. That’s why we are compelled to meet at Copenhagen .(We never learn from our mistakes, that’s a different story !) .

There is definite and urgent  need for world summit  on  cleansing the medical science from  the clutches  of commerce  and ignorance . A medical green house effect, with dangerous holes in health care  is imposing on us (Another pessimistic thought . . . of course in the interest of human kind !)

World health organization ,  a sleeping giant has to be awakened on this issue

Final message:

Mankind has evolved over many millenniums ,  probably with a sole  purpose of living ,  that is reproduction and propagation of our genre without harming the environment and other species.

Unrestricted  and unregulated growth of any kind is dangerous we call it as malignancy in pathology .In science , we tend to call it a” great future ”

Our  sixth sense*  has  outgrown  miserably  out of  reality  , as have we decided to take on the nature and GOD .Now , many developing country men do not believe in death .They are fighting a losing battle against the God. And they suffer with escalating health costs of keeping the elderly ,  alive who are  knocking at the doors of heaven or hell . The same countries,  which deny funds for curable illnesses of the poor is a different story altogether !

The principle of modern medicine  would ideally  be

  • Reduce human suffering irrespective of economic status
  • Curing a illness if there is a cure
  • Prolonging life if there is useful purpose
  • Allow a good quality death if there is no cure.
  • Most importantly  , prey to god give us strength and capacity to identify which is good and which is bad for our patients  .

Read and learn for a  complete guide on optimism and pessimism

* It  is  important to recognise , the same sixth sense  has   made it possible to share our views through a great tool of  Internet  . So we should not be against the growth of science but against the misuses and wrong interpretations of it .



The traditional characters  of  a pessimist


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What are the fundamental  difference between randomised  studies and observational studies ?

New discoveries come from shrewed  observations made in bedside or labside  while ,  randomised studies evaluate these discoveries for it’s effectiveness or futileness  .

Let us realise ,  RCTs   primarily  never  contribute to  generation of  original  concepts or discoveries  ! .It is a  statistical tool to assess an observation .

Click below to reach the excellent knowledge  source on above  the issue .

PLoS Medicine: Observational Research, Randomised Trials, and Two Views of Medical Science

The fact that  observational studies are done with open eyes &  mind ,  it is  obvious it  demands  intense conceptualization and thinking .
Blinded studies  are  mechanical studies . It is pure statistical research . It requires  no thinking  , medical  mind , in fact one can do it with eyes closed as it is a strict protocol driven  , even a  non medical men  can do a  medical research , while it needs a  alert mind to do a observational study .

Observational studies , especialy  when done retrospectively  has  zero bias  as the case selection and  the potential intervention are completed even before the research question  is raised. In fact many of the  greatest medical breakthrough comes from retrospective analysis. Of course this has to be proved prospectively  preferably in a randomised fashion.

So , we the medical professionals ,  shall  do great observational  research with open eyes and mind and let the  the statisiticins do the outcome analysis blind folded .

If the core medical professionals are bothered more about  randomised blinded  studies ,which is  meant only for evaluation purposes , the  future of intellectual  medical research is  going to be in jeopardy!

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