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Posts Tagged ‘streptokinase’

Which is  the most important factor that determines thrombolysis failure in STEMI  ?

  1. Thrombus load .
  2. Drug efficiency
  3. Time delay
  4. Presence of a mechanical lesion
  5. Hemodynamic instability

Answer : 3 .(Though all 5 factors operate )

Failed thrmbolysis occur in about 40-50% after streptokinase and slightly less with TPA   and TNK-TPA . Delayed arrival and late thrombolysis are  most common cause of failed thrombolysis. As the time flies , the  myocardium gets damaged and the intra coronary  thrombus gets organised .Both these processes make delayed thrombolysis a futile exercise.

               Not all STEMI patients have large thrombus burden. There need to be a critical load of thrombus for thrombolytic to be effective

Some may have a major mechanical lesion in the form of plaque fissure, prolapse and it simply blocks the coronary artery mechanically like a boulder on the road  . The poor  streptokinse  or the rich Tenekteplace !  nothing can move this boulder .The only option here is emergency PCI .

How will you know when the patient  arrives in ER with STEMI whether his/ her coronary artery is blocked with soft thrombus or hard mechanical boulder ?

It is impossible to know.That’s why primary PCI has a huge advantage.  But still thrombolysis is useful as some amount of thrombus will be there in all patients with STEMI.Lysing this will provide at least a  trickle of  blood flow that will jeep the myocardium viable and enable us to take for early PCI.

Final message

The commonest cause for thrombolytic failure is the time of administration and the degree of underlying mechanical lesion  . So  it does not make sense  to blame  streptokinase always !

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Time is muscle .This  may sound as  an old fashioned statement now ,  for many of us. But the fact remains. Every minute following  STEMI ,  myocytes  keep  losing it’s life one by one unless , the  intervened.

The prevention of myocyte death can be accomplished by three ways

  1. By early thrombolysis
  2. By Primary angioplasty
  3. The  one  that happens naturally by a process called spontaneous thrombolysis *

* Most have a  strong belief  that the  natural forces are incompetent to lyse a  small thrombus within our coronary  arteries  ( While  , we  fully  realise   natural  forces  like  the Tsunami can wash out  the entire ocean floors  ) . Never under- estimate the force of  nature !

Balloons are not privileged !

 

It is widely accepted , a time window of up to 12 hours is optimal for reperfusion. Beyond that time , there is no point in reperfusing  the muscle  as   it  might have died. While ,  the majority of cardiologists agree  to this and they  promptly  refuse  to thrombolyse ,   if the patient comes  12 hours after an onset of STEMI  .They are labeled  ” late on  arrival”  and  coded  as ineligible for thrombolysis.

The moment they are labeled as ineligible for lysis , a dangerous thought process runs across  the minds of  many cardiologists. It is  possibly  the most important paradox (Shall  we call it as sense failure ? )

Such lysis ineligible  patients    become  automatically eligible for primary PCI . . . It is curious  to note , the  time window for primary PCI is also less than 12 hours is strangely forgotten.

It has become a prevalent  practice  by all unscientific means  , most  cardiologists extend  the time window for primary PCI well beyond 12 hours  , some even up to 36-48 hours.  No wonder . . . then why open artery trial (OAT) miserably failed . Even a  novice  can predict the out come when  one tries  to resuscitate the  dead muscle .

Final message

Myocardium  does not behave in a privileged  manner  during a STEMI.  It  simply does  not bother  about the way  by which  it is going to be rescued and reperfused  .All it needs   is a timely help. It can not extend its   life just because it is being rescued by a  sophisticated modalities like pPCI.

If the patient is late for thrombolysis ,  he is late for  primary PCI as well .

Please do not change the time window in STEMI  according to  our  whims and fancies . It is  an  unscientific and unprofessional  way to practice cardiology .

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Thrombus formation  and subsequent lysis  either spontaneous or pharmacological is the key events in acute vascular emergencies .We know both STEMI and acute strokes can get aborted  naturally.

The thrombus which initially forms , triggers a natural lytic mechanism and this fights vigorously against the clotting process , and tries to get rid  of the intravascular clot.

The early  minutes are vital. (Like the T 20 cricket )  the win or loss is decided in the first few overs . The mantra is unrelented attack of the ball . . .ie thrombus !  In some patients  the clot  can never grow big to fill the lumen.These are lucky few .The mechanisms are common in both cerebral and coronary circulation. Here is were comes the role of antiplatelet agesnt .An aspirin or clopidogrel administered within minutes can prevent the genesis of  central core of the thrombus .(This is the  secret of aspirin scoring over stretokinase in STEMI in ISIS2 study done three deaceds ago !)

It should be realised,  our understanding about spontaneous lysis is very little considering explosive growth of other aspects of cardiology. It is mediated by circulating  TPA and antithrombin 3  .  Remember  every humans have it in their  blood .But how much ? How to augment it ‘s power at times of thrombotic crises ?

What could be the clinical correlates of spontaneous thrombolysis ?

  1. In brain classically it is TIA .
  2. In heart do we have TIA equivalents ?  .Yes it transient rest angina

Link to video on TIA of the heart

Read this article to get a glimpse of  natural cerebral thrombolysis  and shall we   extrapolate it to coronary spontaneous thrombolysis  .Why not ?

Arch Neurol — Nonocclusion and Spontaneous Recanalization Rates in Acute Ischemic Stroke: A Review of Cerebral Angiography Studies, December 2002, Kassem-Moussa and Graffagnino 59 (12): 1870

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Thrombolytic therapy was a  mini revolution  when it was introduced two decades ago .It has since evolved  , not only in the  molecular structure  but also in it’s usage pattern.

The first generation streptokinase is continued to be used even today  . While the latest generation thrombolytic agent TNKTPA(Tenekteplase) is threatening  to push the  old warrior out of  CCU.

(Of course the  American Physician & Pharma  community  never  gave the due respect to  streptokinase  !)

The two common indications  for thrombolytic therapy  are

  • STEMI
  • Acute pulmonary embolism

Uncommon indications

  • Stroke( Can be common in few institutions)
  • Prosthetic valve thrombosis
  • Rarely DVT

From the beginning , there has been a controversy  about the thrombolytic  dosage and  the speed with which it is to be administered .Let us recall , streptokinase was initially  used  in  various regimes ( 5-30lakh units between a 10 -3hr infusion )  Later ,we arrived at a consensus at  15L units  in 1 hr infusion . TPA also experienced the same . Which  settled  for front loaded regimen(35 + 65mg)  . The confusion reappeared when we developed bolus thrombolytic agents( TNKTPA) .

In STEMI thrombus formation  is  often a one time process  while thrombolysis is a continuous process. In pulmonary embolism both  thrombus formation  and lysis  is often continuous process  .

The success of thrombolysis depends on the sustained  drug concentration ,  the pressure at which the drug interacts  the thrombus.

Many times it is prudent to administer  intensive heparin after thrombolysis  to prevent recurrent thrombosis. Further ,  most of the pulmonary embolisms  will require long term anticoagulants.

How to maximize the success of thrombolytic agents ?

  • Local catheter based thrombolysis can be tried  within the coronary ostium (Largely unpopular)
  • Within the pulmonary artery for pulmonary embolism (Still considered an useful option )

It  makes sense , to administer these thrombolytic agents over a prolonged period of time so that the lytic process gets wider recruitment of the natural lytic mechanisms.

When a drug is infused continuously , the drug  reach the thrombus in  a pulsatile manner , which facilitates thrombus dessication  (Like drip irrigation ) . A long acting drug even with a high concentration may not be  very effective , since  the  drug is required to produce a mechanical effect  here . (Unlike say a long acting antibiotics !)

TPA in Pulmonary embolism

The inadequacies  of  2 hour infusion of TPA is  glaring in acute pulmonary embolism .We believe   a 48-72 hour streptokinase infusion   has a definte edge   over a short and brief TPA infusion.

Issues need answer

It is yet , not understood why we can’ t infuse TPA as  a   long term infusion like streptokinase .

Advantage  of bolus TNK TPA  in  pre-hospital phase of STEMI

The argument in favor of bolus dose  thrombolytic agent  is  the ease of administration .

The other the major advantage claimed  is ,  a 10 second  TNK TPA   in STEMI  can  substantially  reduce the time window   and facilitate  early completion of thrombolysis .

Counter point

But , the  later concept is hard to prove  . . .

In fact , there  are  no controlled studies  available for assessing the   efficacy of TNK-TPA   vs  Streptokinase   with reference to various time windows. We presume so many things. An  incomplete   early thrombolysis  may not be better than a  more  successful  but  slightly delayed TIMI3 flow .

As scientists,  when  we try  to answer these  question we  ask for data .  Are we getting it any way ?  Are the existing data reflect  fact ?     We  wonder,  will we may never get   an  hourly  angiographic  data base  about the IRA  patency  in  TPA bolus  vs streptokinase infusion .

It is most unfortunate,   with  many of the critical questions   still to be answered ,  the cardiology community believes ,  they  have  reached the  summit  of  knowledge  about thrombolytic therapy . Current perception is , the research on  existing  thrombolytic drugs  is  deemed to have been complete .

In this hyped  era of interventional coronary  care  ,   it is a remote possibility   to have any  further comparative studies on thrombolytic agents .

The greatest threat faced by  us  today  is the destiny  of  modern medicine is   often  decided in  few corporate board rooms  and   hence   research questions  rarely  emanate from bed side !

In this scenario, where we are not likely to generate   genuine  clinical  data ,  the only way to move   forward is   to go  by  our experience – ” Genuine  experience to be precise . . .”

Final message

Ease of administration should never be the criteria in choosing a thrombolytic agent . It   can severely    compromise the quality of thrombolysis  ! especially in pulmonary embolism and to a certain extent in STEMI.  Success   rarely  comes  with ease  . . .

Many believe , the choice  between  streptokinase   & TPA    goes much beyond it’s academic reasons.  TNK TPA (Tenektepalse) has come in a big way to replace streptokinase  even   in developing countries.  Ofcourse it is backed by a huge study  ! (ASSENT) .

The cost effectiveness and worthiness  of TPA over streptokinase  was  never proved comprehensively.

Note of caution :

The observation made above is   based on personal  opinion  in  about   20 patients  . Readers are  argued to do their own  analysis on this issue and come to a conclusion .

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Failed thrombolysis is an important clinical  issue  in STEMI   as  successful thrombolysis  occurs  only in  about 50-60%  of pateints . The typical criteria to define failed thrombolysis is  the  regression  of less than 50% of sum total( or maximum)  ST elevation in infarct leads.

So what do you do for these patients with failed thrombolysis ?

It depends upon the patient’s symptom, hemodynamic stability, LV dysfunction .

They  should  get one of the following .

  1. Conservative medical management  with /without CAG
  2. Repeat thrombolysis
  3. Rescue PCI
  4. CABG

Medical management is  thought to be  too inferior a  management,  many of the interventional cardiologists  do  not want to talk about . But  , there is  an important  group of patients (Not often addressed in cardiology literature)  who  technically fulfill the criteria  of failed thrombolysis  , but   still  very  comfortable , asymtomatic  and in  class 1. These patients ,  have  a strong option for continuing the conservative management .

Repeat thrombolysis does not have a consistent effect but can  be  tried in some  stable patients. CABG  can be a genuine option in few

Rescue PCI

This terminology  has become  the  glamorous one since the  catchy word  rescue is tagged in the title  itself. For most of the cardiac physicians ,  this has become the default treatment modality.This is an unfortunate perception . What  one should realise   here is  , we are  tying to rescue  the myocardium and  the patient ,   not the patient’s coronary artery !

Opening up a coronary obstruction is not synonymous with rescue .

For rescue PCI ,  to be effective it should be done within the same time window as that for thrombolysis (ie within 6 or at the most  12 hours) .This timing  is  of vital importance  for the simple reason , there will be nothing to rescue after 12 hours as most of the muscle  would be  dead. Reperfusing a dead myocardium has been shown to be hazardous in some ,  as it converts a simple  infarct into a hemorrhagic  infarct.This softens the core of the infarct and  carry a risk of rupture. Further,   doing a complex emergency  PCI  ,  in  a thrombotic milieu with   presumed  long term  benefit ,  is  a  perfect recipe for a potential  disaster.

While the above statement may be seen as pessimistic view , the optimistic cardiologist would vouch for the“Curious  open artery hypothesis” .This theory simply states , whatever be the status  of the distal myocardium ( dead or alive !)   opening an obstruction in the concerened coronary artery  will benefit the patient !

It is  huge surprise , this concept   continues to  be alive even after  repeatedly shot dead by number of very good clinical trials (TOAT, CTO limb of COURAGE etc ).

The REACT study (2004) concluded undisputed benefit of rescue PCI for failed thrombolysis  , only if the rescue was done  within  5-10 hours after the onset of symptoms.The mean time for  pain-to-rescue PCI was 414 minutes (6.5hours)

Final  message

It is fashionable to talk about time window for thrombolyis but not for PCI  .The time window for rescue PCI is an redundant issue  for many  cardiologists ! . But ,  the fact of the matter is ,  it is not . . .

The concept of time window in rescue PCI  , is as important as ,   that of  thrombolysis. Please , think twice or thrice !  if some body suggest you to do a rescue PCI in a stable patient  ,  12hours after the index event .

Important note : This rule   does not (  or need  not  ) apply for patients in cardiogenic shock  or patient ‘s with ongoing iscemia and angina.

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Heparin was invented accidentally by a 26 year old  , Jay McLean, a  pre clinical  medical student  in 1916 .It was one of the greatest discovery  in  medicine .It helped us prevent blood from clotting.Frozen blood inside human circulatory system constituted one of important mechanisms  of  human  death.This ranged from acute myocardial infarction to cerebral thrombosis  .

heparin3

As we decoded the mechanism of action of heparin , it was clear it bound to the  naturally occurring molecule antithrombin 3 and effectively blocks the intrinsic coagulation mechanism and thus behaves as an important anticoagulation agent.

How heparin acts as a thrombolytic agent ?

We know , our hematological system has a powerful  natural  fibrinolytic mechanisms  to protect against unwarranted( pathological ) intravascular coagulation. This is mediated by  anti thrombin, protein C , protein S  ,  plasminogen  system etc  . Natural concentrations of tissue plasminogen activator (Tpa)  also  help in lysing intravascular clots.

There is a constant  , delicate balance between procoagulant , anticoagulant and antifibrinolytic molecules .Intra vascular  clots occur when a vascular  injury triggers  a clot formation and the clinical event occurs.

But,   once insulted ,   the  circulating blood   does not remain a silent spectator . It is  constantly  on the look out for a foe to attack the thrombus that is interfering  with its natural flow  . Antithrombin 3 is one such molecule. Success  of lysis depends on the power of natural forces. There are hundreds of episodes of microlysis that take place every day  (Which happen without our knowledge ) .In  patients with vascular  disease these episodes are likely to be further more.

What does  Intravenous heparin in high doses  do ?

Heparin immediately  blocks of powerful procaogualtion activity .One of the important heamatological principle  is “Thrombus begets thrombus “. It is  a vicious cycle. This is immediately  tackled by heparin .The powerful trigger of thrombus induced thrombus propogation is shut off .

This makes a  2 cm sized clot to remain  in  2cm . After  making sure of this , the blood in the immediate vicinity   start percolating the clot.  The heparinised blood   switches to  a pro- fibrinolytic mode as the balance of forces  is fully tilted in favor of fibrinolysis or thrombolysis.

Is there clinical evidence to call heparin as thrombolytic agent ?

Yes . Contrary to the popular scientific  principle we have only clinical evidence  . laboratory evidence is not convincing as heaprin lyses clot only in vivo . Since ,  evidnece based medicine requires  laboratory evidence  we hesitate to call this as  thrombolytic agent !

It has been a strong clinical observation ,   many  major intracardiac or  intravascular  clots  regress in size

(or totally dissolve )  with intensive heparin  regimen .The effect is seen in 48-72 hours.Some times in first 24 hours.

What are the clinical situations where heparin has successfully lysed the clots*?

  • Pulmonary embolism
  • LV clot
  • LA clot
  • Cortical venous thrombus
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Coronary thrombosis**
  • Portal vien thrombois
  • Renal vein thrombois

* Plenty of case reports available for each condition

** Sustained micro  thrombolysis  is the major mechanism of benefit in NSTEMI

If it is true ,  heparin dissolves thrombus , why  it is not called as thrombolytic agent ?

Why not ?  You decide yourself !

How does heparin compares with  the great thrombolytic agents*  like  Strepotiknase, Urokinase,Altepase, Retepalse , Teneckteplase (TNK TPA) ?

Many (Rather most . . .)  would consider it ,  as  foolish , to compare heparin with these agents .But the fact of the matter is except for streptokinase there is no comparison studies available. Attempting such a study  in humans will  be considered unethical. Without   a proper scientific  data  heparin  can not be ignored either.

But ,  some of the control groups in major  studies of thrombolysis  through some light !

In pulmonary embolism thrombolytic agents and heparin have similar effects on intrapulmonary thrombus

An important point to remember here is   , the powerful thrombolyic agents are administered  in as short duration (Bolus / 1  hour infusion ) .This is invariably  followed by heparin infusion . Why do we  do that ? because we know it is important . One may never know , how much of lysis is done  by the trhombolytic agent and how much by heparin .

if you analyse the  data  success rate of thrombolytic agents are infact attributable  to the follow up heparin

Thrombolytic agents  piggy packs on heparin and claims the  credit for thrombolysis *

In thrombolytic  therapy  , heparin  is considered  as an adjunct to streptokinsae but in reality  streptokinase  may an  adjunct to heparin

Importance of  heparin In Acute MI (HEAP Trial)

It should be realized  there is a time window for heparin too . . .  early administration  can have  great benefit

Early heparin prevents formation of  core  of the clot .The   importance of acute administration of  aspirin  in suspected STEMI  is well recognized  by paramedics  .  A bolus of heparin (10000 u)  immediately  could have great impact on the outcome as well  .Paradoxically we talk more  about emergency PCI,  on  transit TPA  etc . . . We have seen  number of patients  referred  with  STEMI   from   suburban areas traveling for hours with out any anticoagulants but promptly getting sorbitarate tablets ! Unfortunately prehospital heparin is rarely stressed in literature .

Watch the video : Heparin : The forgotten hero

Final message

  • Heparin is   an  under rated drug  as a thrombolytic agent.
  • Just because it has no direct action  on thrombus it is considered an inferior agent.( One other reason  for it to be  considered  inferior ,   it  is  very cheap  !)
  • Heparin too ,  has a time window effect in acute MI (Class 3 evidence ie   wide clinical experience)
  • It’s  usage should be early  and  liberal , especially  in out of hospital setting in vascular  emergency.
    Note of caution : This article is not meant  to  defame  the thrombolytic agents.It only stresses a point that , heparin has also a role , as a thrombolytic agent. *Whenever rapid thrombolysis is required in life threatening situations specific thrombolysis is indicated as per guidelines.

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Prosthetic valve obstruction is an important complication of artificial valves.The incidence of prosthetic valve obstruction  is  estimated  to  be  4% per year.

  • Pure thrombus 75%*
  • Pure pannus 10%
  • Combination of pannus and thrombus 12%

Data from Deviri (J Am Coll Cardiol, 1998; 32:1410-1417 )

pannus-2

*Note statistically you are going to be right 3 times out of 4 if you diagnose thrombus over pannus

Pannus  literally means a hanging flap of tissue. It is is a membrane of granulation tissue as an response to healing.It can  occur anywhere in the body. When it occurs in the prosthetic valve tissue interface it has important consequences.It  is  same  as excessive scarring , ( something similar to keloid formation ) .

pannus

How do they clinically present ?

Prosthetic valve thrombosis is usually a acute or sub acute event as thrombus formation rapidly deteriorates the clinical situation.Pannus brings a patient with the complaints of chronic progressive dyspnea.(This rule is very subjective  but . . .)

What are the determinants of pannus growth ?

Time is the major determinant. minimum period required is 12  months. It is a avascular mass.It should be noted  a  injured pannus can predispose  a thrombotic process and a chronic thrombus  can trigger intravascular   growth factors  that promotes pannus growth.

What is the direction of growth of pannus in prosthetic valve ?

The pannus grows , usually in the tissue valve interface.It tracks and creeps along the suture lines .Generally this does not encroach the valve orifice or chamber sapce  , but occasionally the hanging edges can hit upon a leaflet.This is more common with tilting disc on the side of minor orifice. When excessive it can make a valve leaflet almost standstill.

How common is pannus formation in starr edwards valve?

Is relatively uncommon as the dynamic ball periodically interrupts the process of pannus in growth within the orifice.

Final message

Why is recognition of pannus important ?

Prosthetic valve thrombois is amenable to thrombolysis and it should be proptly differentiated for pannus.This is many times a difficult excercise, but the above observation will be helpful.

Further reading

http://content.onlinejacc.org/cgi/content/full/32/5/1410

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