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CARDIOLOGY DOCTORS IN HOSUR ROAD Pulmonary embolism This is not quite a cardiac condition and not quite a respiratory condition but it is often managed by cardiologists. Modern CT pulmonary angiography is very sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of PE. A negative scan that is of good quality effectively excludes the diagnosis. The scans are so sensitive that small distal emboli may be detected in patients who do not have convincing symptoms of embolism. This poses a therapeutic problem that may be avoided if scans are not ordered inappropriately. Some patients cannot have a CTPA, usually because of renal impairment that would make the injection of contrast risky. A V/Q nuclear scan is then a reasonable alternative to a CTPA. These scans are less accurate than CT pulmonary angiography but the clinical suspicion of PE and a lung scan reported as intermediate or high probability is an indication for treatment. Patients should be admitted to hospital and treatment begun with intravenous heparin or subcutaneous low molecular weight heparin. The latter has the advantage that the dose is determined by body weight and repeated measurements of clotting times are not required. In some cases it may be possible to treat patients with small pulmonary emboli at home with supervised low molecular weight heparin. Either way, soon after diagnosis patients should be started on oral anticoagulation treatment with warfarin. A stable INR may often be achieved within five days or so, the heparin ceased and the patient discharged. Most patients with dyspnoea as a result of PE begin to feel better within a few days of starting treatment. It is often difficult to know how long to continue treatment with warfarin. The usual recommendation for an uncomplicated first PE is three to six months. Recurrent PE may be an indication for lifelong treatment. It also suggests a need to investigate for clotting abnormalities (e.g. anti-thrombin III deficiency, protein S and protein C deficiency, abnormal Factor V and anti-nuclear antibody). A very large and life-threatening PE which is associated with the sudden onset of severe dyspnoea and hypotension may be an indication for thrombolytic treatment. An echocardiogram may show abnormal right ventricular function in these ill patients and help in the decision. Experience with this is limited and the optimum regimen is not really known. Tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) is now indicated for this purpose and current recommendations are for a 10 mg bolus over two minutes followed by 90 mg over two hours.
POPULAR CARDIOLOGIST IN KATTIGENAHALLI, BANGALORE Cyanotic congenital heart disease Some of the more common cyanotic lesions are discussed below. There are, however, a number of problems common to patients with cyanotic heart disease. 1 Erythrocytosis. Chronic cyanosis causes an increase in red cell numbers as a way of increasing oxygen carrying capacity. The platelet count is sometimes reduced and the white cell count normal. The increased blood viscosity associated with the high red cell mass causes a slight increase in the risk of stroke.37 Most patients have a stable elevated haemoglobin level, but venesection is recommended if this is greater than 20 g/dL and the haematocrit is greater than 65%. Levels as high as this can be associated with the hyperviscosity syndrome: headache, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Recurrent venesection can cause iron depletion and the production of microcytic red cells, which are stiffer than normal cells and so increase viscosity further. 2 Bleeding. Reduced platelet numbers, abnormal platelet function and clotting factor deficiencies mean these patients have an increased risk of haemorrhage. The most dangerous problem is pulmonary haemorrhage but bleeding from the gums and menorrhagia are more common. The use of anticoagulation must be restricted to those with a strong indication for treatment. 3 Gallstones. Chronic cyanosis and increased haem turnover are associated with an increased incidence of pigment gallstones. 4 Renal dysfunction and gout. Congestion of the renal glomeruli is associated with a reduced glomerular filtration rate and proteinuria. This and the increased turnover of red cells lead to urate accumulation and gout. 5 Pulmonary hypertension. Lesions associated with increased flow through the pulmonary circulation (e.g. a large atrial septal defect) can lead to a reactive rise in pulmonary arterial resistance. This is more likely to occur if the left to right shunt is large. Eventually these pulmonary vascular changes become irreversible, pulmonary pressures equal or exceed systemic pressures, and central cyanosis occurs because the intra-cardiac shunt reverses (Eisenmenger’s syndrome). Flow is now from right to left. There is then no benefit in attempting to correct the underlying cardiac abnormality. Earlier and more successful treatment of children with congenital heart disease has reduced the number of patients with this inexorable disease. Careful management of these conditions can nevertheless improve patients’ symptoms and survival. Reasonable exercise tolerance is usually maintained into adult life for most patients but progressive deterioration then occurs. Haemorrhagic complications, especially haemoptysis, are common. Thrombotic stroke, cerebral abscess and pulmonary infarction can also occur.
THE HEARTDOCTORS IN BANGALORE Pulmonary embolism This is not quite a cardiac condition and not quite a respiratory condition but it is often managed by cardiologists. Modern CT pulmonary angiography is very sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of PE. A negative scan that is of good quality effectively excludes the diagnosis. The scans are so sensitive that small distal emboli may be detected in patients who do not have convincing symptoms of embolism. This poses a therapeutic problem that may be avoided if scans are not ordered inappropriately. Some patients cannot have a CTPA, usually because of renal impairment that would make the injection of contrast risky. A V/Q nuclear scan is then a reasonable alternative to a CTPA. These scans are less accurate than CT pulmonary angiography but the clinical suspicion of PE and a lung scan reported as intermediate or high probability is an indication for treatment. Patients should be admitted to hospital and treatment begun with intravenous heparin or subcutaneous low molecular weight heparin. The latter has the advantage that the dose is determined by body weight and repeated measurements of clotting times are not required. In some cases it may be possible to treat patients with small pulmonary emboli at home with supervised low molecular weight heparin. Either way, soon after diagnosis patients should be started on oral anticoagulation treatment with warfarin. A stable INR may often be achieved within five days or so, the heparin ceased and the patient discharged. Most patients with dyspnoea as a result of PE begin to feel better within a few days of starting treatment. It is often difficult to know how long to continue treatment with warfarin. The usual recommendation for an uncomplicated first PE is three to six months. Recurrent PE may be an indication for lifelong treatment. It also suggests a need to investigate for clotting abnormalities (e.g. anti-thrombin III deficiency, protein S and protein C deficiency, abnormal Factor V and anti-nuclear antibody). A very large and life-threatening PE which is associated with the sudden onset of severe dyspnoea and hypotension may be an indication for thrombolytic treatment. An echocardiogram may show abnormal right ventricular function in these ill patients and help in the decision. Experience with this is limited and the optimum regimen is not really known. Tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) is now indicated for this purpose and current recommendations are for a 10 mg bolus over two minutes followed by 90 mg over two hours. 7
CARDIOLOGISTS IN DEVARABESANAHALLI BANGALORE Complex congenital heart disease: Fontan repair Anatomy and physiology Babies with a single ventricle or equivalent defect are often treated during childhood with a palliative operation to connect venous return directly to the pulmonary arteries—a Fontan repair. The prognosis is usually good: 75% of these patients survive at least 20 years. Complications Problems develop because of failure of the systemic ventricle, obstruction of the venous to pulmonary connection, atrial enlargement and AV valve regurgitation. Atrial arrhythmias become increasingly common. Sinus node dysfunction may necessitate pacing, which requires an epicardial electrode in most cases. Follow-up Echocardiography allows assessment of ventricular function and the AV valve. Obstruction in the Fontan connections can be examined with Doppler. MRI is increasingly useful for this assessment. Treatment Severe AV valve regurgitation, cyanosis and ventricular dysfunction are indications for intervention, including transplant or revision of the Fontan. Atrial arrhythmias can be treated with radiofrequency ablation. Pregnancy and contraception Pregnancy is possible in some patients with excellent Fontan function, good LV function and minimal AV valve regurgitation. Maternal risk is high if the Fontan is failing. There may be problems with the need to withdraw ACE inhibitors and with anticoagulation.
CARDIOLOGISTS IN H S R LAYOUT BANGALORE Cyanotic congenital heart disease Some of the more common cyanotic lesions are discussed below. There are, however, a number of problems common to patients with cyanotic heart disease. 1 Erythrocytosis. Chronic cyanosis causes an increase in red cell numbers as a way of increasing oxygen carrying capacity. The platelet count is sometimes reduced and the white cell count normal. The increased blood viscosity associated with the high red cell mass causes a slight increase in the risk of stroke.37 Most patients have a stable elevated haemoglobin level, but venesection is recommended if this is greater than 20 g/dL and the haematocrit is greater than 65%. Levels as high as this can be associated with the hyperviscosity syndrome: headache, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Recurrent venesection can cause iron depletion and the production of microcytic red cells, which are stiffer than normal cells and so increase viscosity further. 2 Bleeding. Reduced platelet numbers, abnormal platelet function and clotting factor deficiencies mean these patients have an increased risk of haemorrhage. The most dangerous problem is pulmonary haemorrhage but bleeding from the gums and menorrhagia are more common. The use of anticoagulation must be restricted to those with a strong indication for treatment. 3 Gallstones. Chronic cyanosis and increased haem turnover are associated with an increased incidence of pigment gallstones. 4 Renal dysfunction and gout. Congestion of the renal glomeruli is associated with a reduced glomerular filtration rate and proteinuria. This and the increased turnover of red cells lead to urate accumulation and gout. 5 Pulmonary hypertension. Lesions associated with increased flow through the pulmonary circulation (e.g. a large atrial septal defect) can lead to a reactive rise in pulmonary arterial resistance. This is more likely to occur if the left to right shunt is large. Eventually these pulmonary vascular changes become irreversible, pulmonary pressures equal or exceed systemic pressures, and central cyanosis occurs because the intra-cardiac shunt reverses (Eisenmenger’s syndrome). Flow is now from right to left. There is then no benefit in attempting to correct the underlying cardiac abnormality. Earlier and more successful treatment of children with congenital heart disease has reduced the number of patients with this inexorable disease. Careful management of these conditions can nevertheless improve patients’ symptoms and survival. Reasonable exercise tolerance is usually maintained into adult life for most patients but progressive deterioration then occurs. Haemorrhagic complications, especially haemoptysis, are common. Thrombotic stroke, cerebral abscess and pulmonary infarction can also occur. 364 PRACTICAL CARDIOLOGY In a recent European survey, survival for patients with simple defects and Eisenmenger’s was to 32.5 years, but only 25.8 years for those with Eisenmenger’s resulting from complex abnormalities.38 There is a 50% maternal mortality risk with pregnancy. Quite minor surgical procedures are associated with high risk. Trials with endothelin antagonists are being conducted and continuous oxygen treatment can provide symptomatic relief. Lung and heart lung transplant should be considered for some of these patients. 6 Endocarditis. Most patients with congenital heart disease have a lifelong risk of infective endocarditis. Constant reminders of this risk should be given to the patients and their usual doctors. As well as appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis . before procedures, a high index of suspicion is very important. A febrile illness should not be treated with antibiotics until at least two sets of blood cultures have been taken. Early referral
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