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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.
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
POPULAR CARDIOLOGIST IN AMRUTHA HALLI , BANGALORE Assessment of patients with hypertension A patient with definite or possible newly diagnosed hypertension needs at least a basic clinical assessment to look for possible aetiology, severity and signs of complications. The history Questioning should be directed towards the following areas. 1 Past history. Has hypertension been diagnosed before? What treatment was instituted? Why was it stopped? 2 Secondary causes. Important questions relate to: • a history of renal disease in the patient or his or her family, recurrent urinary tract infec-­ tions, heavy analgesic use or conditions leading to renal disease (e.g. systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)) • symptoms suggesting phaeochromocytoma (flushing, sweats, palpitations) • symptoms suggesting sleep apnoea • muscle weakness suggesting the hypokalaemia of hyperaldosteronism • Cushing’s syndrome (weight gain, skin changes) • family history of hypertension. 3 Aggravating factors: • high salt intake • high alcohol intake • lack of exercise • use of medications: NSAIDs, appetite suppressants, nasal decongestants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, ergotamine, cyclosporin, oestrogen-containing contraceptive pills • other: use of cocaine, liquorice, amphetamines. 4 Target organ damage: • stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) • angina, dyspnoea • fatigue, oliguria • visual disturbance • claudication. 5 Coexisting risk factors: • smoking • diabetes • lipid levels, if known
BEST CARDIOLOGY HOSPITALS IN BANGALORE Cardiac failure Cardiac failure is an increasingly common condition affecting about 1% of the population but much higher proportions of older people. It is responsible for an increasing number of hospital admissions. The various aetiologies have been discussed above, but the most common cause is now ischaemic heart disease rather than hypertensive heart disease. This reflects the improved modern management of hypertension in the population. The definition of heart failure has always included reference to the inability of the heart to meet the metabolic needs of the body. The earliest concepts of heart failure were of inadequate cardiac pump function and associated salt and water retention. Treatment was aimed at improving cardiac contractility and removing salt and water from the body. In the 1970s the concept of after-load reduction was introduced. This was based partly on the realisation that vasoconstriction was part of the problem. This has led to the modern neuro-hormonal concept of heart failure. It is clear that many of the features of cardiac failure are a result of stimulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and sympathetic stimulation. These responses of the body to the fall in cardiac output temporarily increase cardiac performance and blood pressure by increasing vascular volumes, cardiac contractility and systemic resistance. In the medium and longer term these responses are maladaptive. They increase cardiac work and left ventricular volumes and lead to myocardial fibrosis with further loss of myocytes. Most recently it has become clear that heart failure is also an inflammatory condition, with evidence of cytokine activation. Work is underway to establish a role for treatment of this part of the condition. Current drug treatment has been successful in blocking many of the maladaptive aspects of neuro-hormonal stimulation. Many of these treatments have become established after benefits have been ascertained in large randomised controlled trials. These trials have also led to the abandoning of certain drugs (often those that increase cardiac performance) that were shown to have a detrimental effect on survival (e.g. Milrinone). The principles of treatment of heart failure are as follows: 1 Remove the exacerbating factors. 2 Relieve fluid retention. 3 Improve left ventricular function and reduce cardiac work; improve prognosis. 4 Protect against the adverse effects of drug treatment. 5 Assess for further management (e.g. revascularisation, transplant). 6 Manage complications (e.g. arrhythmias). 7 Protect high-risk patients from sudden death.
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.
HEART DOCTORS IN YELAHANKA NEWTOWN, BANGALORE Management of ACS (NSTEACS) Patients with this diagnosis represent a rather heterogeneous group. Some have had the recent onset of angina at the extremes of exercise, others have angina at rest associated with ECG changes. This variation has made attempts to study the effects of different treatment rather difficult. Although the majority of patients with myocardial infarction have a preceding period of unstable angina, only about 5% of all patients admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of an ACS go on to infarct during that admission. The in-hospital mortality for these patients is low. Mortality rates of less than 2% are usual. Nevertheless, there is a real short-term and longerterm risk of infarction, recurrent admission with unstable symptoms and death which is higher than that of patients with stable angina. The diagnosis should therefore lead to admission to a CCU. The cardiac enzymes are, by definition, not elevated in these patients but the newer, more sensitive tests for troponin T and troponin I may be abnormal and indicate a worse prognosis . In the CCU, bed rest, oxygen and ECG monitoring are routinely enforced and any mobile phones taken away (allegedly to protect the monitoring equipment). Recurrence of chest pain can be assessed quickly and ECGs performed to look for changes suggesting infarction. The cardiac biomarkers can be checked regularly. All patients should receive aspirin (300 mg) unless there is a contraindication. Patients with an intermediate or a higher risk should also be given clopidogrel (usually a 300–600 mg loading dose). The use of intravenous heparin has become standard treatment. A typical starting dose is 5000 units as a bolus followed by 24, 000 units over 24 hours. The activated partial thromboplastin time (APPT) should be measured after about six hours of treatment and the infusion rate of heparin adjusted to maintain this at about twice normal. Heparin is generally safe when used in this way. Bleeding problems may sometimes occur and the platelet count should be checked every few days so that heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HITS), a rare but serious complication, can be detected early. Low molecular weight heparins are at least as effective as unfractionated heparin. These drugs have some advantages over heparin. Their dose response effect is more predictable and they cause less thrombocytopenia. They are effective given subcutaneously without APPT monitoring and are now cheaper than IV heparin when savings on APPT monitoring and the use of infusion sets are considered. A standard twice-daily dose is given according to the patient’s weight—1 mg/kg for enoxaparin (Clexane). The dose is reduced by half for those with moderate or severe renal impairment and for those over the age of 75. Additional treatment should include beta-blockers unless these are contraindicated. These drugs reduce the number of ischaemic episodes and probably the risk of myocardial infarction. Nitrates can be a useful adjunctive treatment. They may be given orally, topically or intravenously. The IV dose can be titrated up or down depending on the amount of pain the patient is experiencing and the severity of side effects such as hypotension and headache. The problem of tachyphylaxis with nitrates can be overcome by steady increases in the IV dose if necessary. Calcium antagonists are appropriate treatment for patients intolerant of beta-blockers and may sometimes be added to beta-blockers. Nifedipine, especially in its short-acting form, should not be used for patients with acute coronary syndromes unless they are already taking beta-blockers. Thrombolytic drugs have been disappointing when used for NSTEACS. In trials where they have been used for patients with ischaemic chest pain but without ST elevation there has been a trend towards an adverse outcome. This may be related to the rebound hypercoagulable state that can occur after their use. In general they should not be used for the treatment of NSTEACS. Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors (p. 198) should be given for high-risk patients,
CARDIOLOGY DOCTORS IN BANNERGHTTA ROAD ST elevation myocardial infarction Modern treatment of myocardial infarction has made a profound difference to the prognosis of this life-threatening condition. Before the introduction of CCUs, the expected in-hospital mortality of this condition was more than 20%. Monitoring and treatment of arrhythmias, and correction of biochemical and, where possible, haemodynamic complications in CCUs reduced this to about 12%. The ‘thrombolytic era’, which began with the publication of the results of the GISSI Trial, 31 has dramatically changed the approach to the management of infarction. The use of thrombolytic drugs (streptokinase in GISSI) reduced mortality to less than 10%, with greater benefit for those treated early.32 The addition of aspirin in later trials reduced mortality to about 7% and many CCUs now achieve mortality rates of 5 or 6%. There is no doubt that early treatment makes the greatest difference, but some benefit may be seen with treatment given up to 12 hours after the onset of symptoms of infarction. In centres where it can be performed primary angioplasty is the reperfusion treatment of choice for myocardial infarction. This is a grade A recommendation—level I evidence.33 Mortality rates below 5% can be achieved. The rationale for reperfusion treatment came with the realisation that infarction was caused by thrombosis within a coronary artery (a mechanism first proposed by Herrick in 191234) and that restoring blood flow before irreversible damage had occurred would be helpful. It has been known for a long time that the prognosis following myocardial infarction depends more than anything else on the amount of left ventricular damage that has occurred. For these reasons the early diagnosis of infarction has become very important. Patients with symptoms suggestive of infarction should have an ECG performed as soon as possible. If nondiagnostic changes are present, the tracing should be repeated frequently so that appropriate early decisions about treatment can be made if changes appear. The current ECG criteria for the use of reperfusion treatment (primary angioplasty
THE BEST HEART SPECIALIST S IN YELAHANKA ST segment There are two aspects to report: depression and elevation. Depression The ST segment is said to be abnormal if it slopes down 1 mm or more from the J point—the end of the QRS complex (downsloping depression)—or is depressed 1 mm or more horizontally (plane depression). Depression of the J point itself may be normal, especially during exercise, but this upsloping ST depression should return to the isoelectric line within 0.08 seconds. The isoelectric line is defined as the PR or TP segment of the ECG . ST depression may be due to ischaemia, the effect of digoxin, hypertrophy and so on. Elevation ST elevation of up to 3 mm may be normal in V leads (especially the right), and up to 1 mm may be normal in limb leads. This ST elevation is called early repolarisation syndrome or pattern. Otherwise ST elevation may mean an acute myocardial infarction where it is said to represent a current of injury. Pericarditis also causes ST elevation but unlike infarction is usually associated with concave upwards elevation. hypertrophy and conduction defects like LBBB can be associated with ST elevation in leads where the QRS is mostly negative. T waves The T wave is always inverted in lead aVR and often in L3 and V1–V2, and in aVL if the R wave is less than 5 mm tall. Inversion and flattening are common and non-specific findings. Deep (> 5 mm) symmetrical and persistent (days to weeks) inversion is consistent with infarction; broad, ‘giant’ inversion may follow syncope from any cause including cerebrovascular accidents. Like the ST segment, the T wave tends to be directed opposite to the main QRS deflection in conduction defects (e.g. LBBB), VEBs or ventricular hypertrophy (where it is described as secondary ST/T changes or strain pattern). Tall peaked T waves are most often seen as a reciprocal change to inferior or posterior infarcts. They are classically seen in patients with hyperkalaemia. Broader large T waves are seen in early (‘hyperacute’) infarction and sometimes in cerebrovascular accidents. While not diagnostic by themselves (T waves never are), when they are associated with modest ST elevation (especially in V3) and reciprocal depression in the inferior leads, they indicate infarction or ischaemia. When these changes evolve over time they are even more specific for infarction A U wave may be prominent in patients with hypokalaemia, LVH and bradycardia. Isolated
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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