Posts Tagged ‘primary PCI vs thrombolysis’

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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Time is muscle. This quote  became  sort of ” cardiology sermon”  in the last  few decades .Cardiologist think  they stand  on a 100 meters sprint track once a patient with STEMI arrives .This is indeed true ,  if we  agree  time is  muscle and  our urge is to reduce the door to balloon time .Please  remember ,  this rush matters  much ,  only if the patient comes through very early  when the muscle is really getting damaged . (No issues  . . . even if the fire engine comes in  slow motion if the  house is burnt fully !)

Time is muscle agreed  . . .  but  muscles are  kept alive by  factors other than time  !  So muscles can  defy time if God  is willing !

Time is one of the important components of management of STEMI.  Other things matter too !  Age , baseline co-morbidity ,  underlying extent of CAD, collateral support of IRA territory , and finally  individual variation in hypoxic damage in myocyte is (Rarely  been studied in detail.)

Door  to balloon time for a patient  who lands up within  1 hour window need  to be  much  different from a patient who comes at 10 th hour .The issue is important  because  we use a procedure which requires delicate decision-making ,(IRA-Non IRA issues etc)  the results can be  sub optimal ,  and even be hazardous in low risk STEMI . So , door to balloon time  may be a less  important  component of  time window in a patient who comes after 6 hours .This is the reason  overall outcomes are not changing in a large cohort  of rapidly performed PCI.

The presumed  absolute  relationship  between  “Time  and  muscle”  concept is  always been a suspect . This  is proven by a flawless study from  NEJM .

nejm stemi most important article


This study should infuse more sense to  us ,  time and again, we are  hijacked and sedated by high dose of  pseudo scientific concoction .In fact ,  indiscriminate rapid PCI may not be in  the good interest of  all  patients with STEMI ,  if it is not properly done  .Without realising this fact many developing countries are indulging in extravagance of  costly STEMI programs wasting  the exchequer.

This landmark NEJM  paper convincingly underscores a fact  that  achieving  rapid door to balloon time  is not  going to be the game changer in  conquering  the Global   STEMI  championship  . We have to take the coronary care into the streets  or to their homes as well .This is where the pre-hospital thrombolysis will  emerge in a big way in the future .

A slow and steady thrombolysis beats a fast and furious primary PCI on any given day in all uncomplicated STEMI .This we have proven for over three decades in  one of the India’s largest coronary care unit .( Where is the data man ?  Genuine experience is data . Why  we require , the act of publication to convert an experience into evidence . Often times ,  I  would feel , data is the most unscientific word in medicine . Many Truths  lack evidence , false hoods come with plenty !  For all those  scientific  homo sapiens  , please recall  70 % of ACC/AHA class 1 recommendations are backed by level C evidence ie simple opinion from  perceived experts! )

Final message

A fast and furious primary PCI may not be  the answer in all STEMI population

Thrombolysis  can be  done  with near  zero time delay , it does not require special expertise where an ambulance driver can reperfuse   a myocardium without much fuss and glamor ! He does not have to  split his hair to identify which is the IRA in a complex multivessel STEMI as well ! The streptokinase and TPA will home in  to the target site  smoothly and swiftly .

If indeed ,  time is the major factor in STEMI , we have many other ways to tame  the time . If muscle is more important than time ,  pPCI is  rarely  the answer !

Some India specific  thoughts

Is it not a shame  , we talk about primary PCI  for all  our patients  who do not even get timely Aspirin* after a STEMI! .It is something akin to what we witness every day ,  as our country folks  wield touch screen  Androids  . . . conversing  in open air toilets !

* While the importance of  Aspirin is undermined , It is different story altogether , these patients  get sorbitarate promptly whenever they get chest pain  (mis-placed and  dangerous priority ! )  prescribed by the  roaring  GPs ,  who suffer from discontinuous medical education ,  propelled  by the deeply penetrated 1000 crore oral Nitrate market .

And STEMI workshops are conducted by self-proclaimed experts  every few months in posh  7 star hotels all over India .

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