Posts Tagged ‘stroke’

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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Human body is  now  approached by many of the physicians as  collection of  multiple  organs . This is  the price we pay for modernity in medical science. The era  of great physicians  in general medicine has gone . Now, a  super specialist  of one organ  is  rarely concerned about what is happening to the patient’s  other organ ,  it is  considered    foreign to him  ! While ,  this is the dominant thinking pattern of   modern-day specialist

Let us  travel intime  and  go to the year 1954 . . .

Three  physicians from Michigan ,USA  published  one of greatest observation in clinical sciences , namely the ECG changes in various forms of stroke .

Now , a shrewd physician  , will  suspect a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) by looking at the ECG when the clinical situation demands . But , what we need is every one should develop that skill . We have seen errors happening  even in big institutions (or is it because it is big ?)  when  an elderly person comes with deep T  inversions with or without  altered sensorium being rushed into  CCUs  & cath labs instead of  neurology units.

We  need to teach  our junior  colleagues  . . .  That ,  ECGs of patients with  acute neurological syndromes  (ANS)  can mimic as acute coronary syndromes (ACS) ( especially in elderly ) .

The following ECG changes * are observed during stroke

  • Deep  T wave inversion –   Sub arachnoid hemorrhage
  • Cerebral thrombosis   –      Prolonged QT interval, U WAVES
  • Cerebral hemorrhage –      ST segment  shifts /T inversion


The ECG changes tend to occur very early after CNS injury.May last up to 1 week. They are not useful to identify the type of stroke. But , deep T wave inversions strongly suggest SAH rather than ICH or thrombotic stroke.

What is the mechanism of these ECG changes ? 

It is a clear proof that heart and brain are interconnected by neural network. All the noted changes occur during myocardial repolarisation . (ie ST segment )  The current thinking is  (Ofcourse , it is same as our thinking  in 1950s !)  it is mediated by adreneergic surge  initiated by CNS insult  transmitted to  myocardium by the sympathetic system.

Why should SAH produce more  ECG changes than others ?

It is possible the net adrenegic drive from the brainstem and spinal cord will be greater in SAH as it  spreads the entire CNS  through the cerbro spinal fluid. While localised ICH and infarct is  likely to generate less adrenergic impulse. 


Read the link to circulation 1964 .With courtesey to circualtionaha.com


This came 50  years  ago , we still quote their work and no one has improved their work . 

Final message

If  only  we make the  clinical bed side teaching as a  regualr habit ,  we  do  justice to   our  great  physicians of the past ,   who enriched  our  life  with their  clinical  skills  and  passion for knowledge  sharing .

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                                     Hypertension is considered a major cardiovascular risk factor.Hypertension  can have multiple physiological and pathological effects on heart . The common response to  raised arterial pressure is the hypertrophy of the left ventricle ( LVH). This can increase the risk of heart failure in few ( Mainly diastolic failure)  It is a leading cause for stroke  and   less often a  coronary event.

What links Hypertension and  coronary artery disease

                                           Coronary artery disease is almost synonymous with atherosclerosis. There is no separate entity called hypertensive coronary artery disease. But HT can accelerate the process of atherosclerosis. It is widely understood, hypertension can cause  physical endothelial damage and functional impairment of endothelial function.The physical damage ie enothelial disruption , or erosion is a very uncommon phenomenon . So currently  there is sufficient clinical experience  HT is considered dangerous for coronary artery only if it is with the  company of diabetes and hyperlipidemia. (This will seem controversial as it is against the findings of iconic Framingham trial!)

What the medical community refers to hypertension , may not be really so inside  for the coronary arteries.

                                             The relationship between brachial cuff blood pressure and the intra coronary pressure has very little linear relationship. So one should recognise it is the intra coronary hypertension that has a immediate impact on the coronary events. Now only , we are beginning to understand the complexities  of the relationship between HT and CAD. If we analyse a series of individuals HT per se is not a very serious risk factor for CAD* , but it is a number one risk factor for stroke. 

Why HT in isolation  often result in stroke , rather than a MI ?

While HT  is notoriously common to result  intracerebral hemorrhage, the same HT  would not cause  intramyocardial bleeds . Why ?

What is protecting the myocardium against this complication ?

                                      The exact mechanism  is not clear.Acute surges of blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke many times  but  rarely precipitate  a coronary event(  But may cause a LVF) . The reasons could be the coronary endothelial shearing stress is less than the cerebral blood vessels.Both cerebral and coronary circulation has  auto regulatory mechanism . The coronary auto regulation is more robust in that it does not allow  intra coronary pressures to reach critical levels .There is no clinically relevant intra myocardial hemorrhage reported  even during malignant hypertension.

*But a  high intra coronary pressure can sometimes  result in spontaneous coronary dissection and plaque fissure .Lipid mediated injury is vey much facilitated in a high pressure environment.

Has Controlling blood pressure  to optimal levels  , reduced the overall CAD morbidity and mortality ?

                    The answer is yes, ( But not an emphatic yes ! ) Some studies had been equivocal. It is very difficult to say , how much benefit is attributable to BP reduction  per se  and   how much is attributable to indirect effect on atherosclerosis prevention.

Hypertension during ACS

                            High blood pressure during an episode of unstable angina or STEMI can increase the myocardial oxygen demand and worsen the ischemia. It requires optimal control with nitroglycerine ( Preferably ) or beta blocker and ACE inhibitors.Even though HT is commonly associated  with ACS,  one can not be sure the ACS is preciptated by HT. Many times the sympathetic surge during an ACS keeps the blood pressure high.It is a common experience the blood pressure suddenly dropping to normal or hypotensive levels once the pain and anxiety is controlled.

Hypertension during thrombolysis

                           High blood pressure is a relative contraindication for thrombolysis.It need to be emphasised here, It is the  the fear of stroke that make  it contraindicated .The heart can tolerate  thrombolytic agents delivered at high BP .In fact logically ,  hemodynamically and also  practically it is obseved , thrombolytic agents administered at relatively high blood pressure (140-160 systolic) has better thrombolysis than a patient who is lysed at 100mmhg.

                       The coronary pressure head which contain the thrombolytic agent (streptokinase and others ) need to have pressure jet effect on the thrombus.So the  mean coronary perfusion pressure becomes  a critical determinant of success of thrombolysis.

                            It is a paradox of sorts , very high blood pressures are a relative contraindication for thrombolysis and at the same time normal pressure patients fare less well to thrombolysis.

 Final  message

                        Hypertension continues to be a major cardiovascular risk factor.It has direct and indirect effects on the heart.Generally HT is more of a risk factor for stroke than CAD.A slightly high BP ( Just around the  upper limits of normal or just above it ) has a hemodynamic advantage during thrombolysis.(Class C evidence )

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                                                             Syncope by definition is a transient loss of consciousness due to cerebral hypo perfusion and loss of muscular tone, and the patient falls but  recovers fully and gets up either assisted or spontaneous.The cardiac and vascular counter response to syncope is most often intact .This makes syncope characteristically transient . If a patient does not recover from syncope it could either be a prolonged loss of consciousness( Stroke etc)  or if he never gets up he will be called a victim of cardiac arrest or  a SCD ! (Sudden cardiac death ) . So technically by defintion ,  all  patients  will  have to  survive  the  syncopal episode.

But the following questions need to be answered   

  1. How prolonged  a syncope can be ?
  2. Can syncope lead onto  sudden cardiac death ?(SCD)  
  3. What are  life  threatening syncope and non life threatening syncope ?                           

What is the link between, syncope and SCD in patients with ventricular arrhythmia’s ?

Some case of long QT syndromes could be life threatening especially in children as they inherit sudden death. A patient with a non sustained VT  may develop syncope  if  the  VT  becomes sustained especially  if there is underlying heart disease and LV dysfunction . Among this  few , may degenerate into ventricular fibrillation and patient may die.  

How common is syncope in acute myocardial infarction ? 
 Syncope is a very  rare presentation of acute myocardial infarction. 
Can syncope precipitate  or precede a  cerebro vascular accident  ?   


Prolonged syncope , TIA,  stroke in evolution and completed stroke   can be a continuous spectrum in patients with carotid and cerebrovascular  disese . But when a syncope evolves in to a stroke the   patient is not considered to be a victim of syncope but  they enter the stroke protocol.

There is a big list for the causes of syncope

But to put it simply


  •    Purely electrical ( Arrhythmic- Brady, Tachycardia)
  •    Mechanical( Valvular obstruction, and other structural heart disease etc)

B. Non cardiac

  • Vasovagal (Commonest 90% of all syncope)

C. Metabolic*

  •  Anemia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypoxia
*Metabolic causes  coupled with simple  vaso vagal(Neuro cardiogenic)  constitute the bulk of causes of syncope .Siezure disorders are very  common and a close  mimicker of syncope and need to be ruled out.

How to work up  a patient with syncope ?

                   First ,  one need to confirm  it is indeed a syncope . If the initial examination is not clearcut   one  need to  go back to the  history and ask for  circumstances under which the syncope occured  and  details of prodromal symptoms  if any . Patient’s  family members who witnessed the event can give useful information . It  is the most  cost effective ( Comes free of cost infact !)  investigative tool available .Cardiac syncopes are usually sudden, vasovagal often have environmental or emotional factor. Apart from routine investigations , ECG, Echocardiography, holter are done generally, head up tilt test, Loop, event recorders may be reuired in few.

Final message

                                          Syncope is one of the common symptoms in cardiology and  general medical practice. Many times the diagnosis is easy . Common syncope is  never fatal but , ruling out dangerous  tachy and bradyarrhythmias is a key aim.  In a significant number (20-30%) identifying the cause could be really  difficult and  may never be made in spite  of the modern diagnostic tools. These syncope of unknown origin is grouped along with the neurocardiogenic category.

The one,  positive thing about syncope is (unlike chest pain) , it is rarely fatal in it’s first episode ,  gives the physicians to  investigate and correct the underlying problem.

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To download complete presentation click on the slide


Venkatesan Sangareddi , G. Gnanavelu ,M.A Rajasekar, V.Jaganathan

Department of cadiology , Madras medical college , Chennai.

Formation of LV mural thrombus is one of the important sequel of STEMI. The natural history of LV clot is variable. Spontaneous dissolution often occur . Stroke and peripheral embolism, are other natural events by which left ventricle get rid of the clot. The morphology and the behavior of LV clot is determined by endogenous procoagulant and fibrinolytic mechanisms. Drugs administered in the peri infarct phase also play an important role. In current thrombolytic era ,the incidence of LV clot has come down. Once the clot begins to form over the raw area adjoining a dyskinetic segment, it follows the local hemodynamic factors , that determine the shape , size of the clot which varies from linear , layered , projectile or pedunculated.

Administration of oral anticoagulants remain the standard practice in patients with LV clot. It is prescribed , in the hope that it will prevent the progression of clot and prevent thrombo embolism . Whether, long term warfarin dissolve , regress or dislodge the thrombus is not known. We have observed the incidence of CVA is high in the first few weeks following introduction of oral anticoagulants . We report our experience in 8 patients, with LV clot in Acute MI . All patients were male . Age range 22-58 .All had anterior MI. The mean EF was 38%(28-43%) the mean size of LV clot was 1.4cm (7mm -24mm) mobility was graded with reference to independent movement parallel or perpendicular to the LV. 3 had highly mobile clot. 5 had relatively fixed clot. All were put on titrated warfarin. Two patients who had large LV clot with a stalk got dislodged after starting anticoagulation. The CVA occurred on 12 th and 14 th day after starting warfarin .The pedicle is probably the vulnerable point and is exposed to greatest risk for dissolution . On the other hand the 5 patients who showed relatively stable clots are attending to our cardiology OPD without any events . One patient who had a mobile clot , which got organized at 4 weeks , incidentally this patient had discontinued anticoagulants.

We conclude, oral anticoagulation has a potential to destabilise and dislodge a mobile LV clot in the early days following STEMI .Existing anticoagulation protocol recommends, oral anticoagulation for all patients who have LV clot. This need to be redefined. If surgery is not an option , temporary withdrawal of anticoagulation may be indicated in selected patients with LV clot, to facilitate organization of clot.


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