Pulmonary Embolism in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Congestive Heart Failure

Am J Med. 2006 Oct;119(10):851-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.11.035.


Background: The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) is often unreliable in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure (CHF).

Subjects and methods: Registro Informatizado de la Enfermedad TromboEmbólica (RIETE) is an ongoing registry of consecutive patients with acute venous thromboembolism. In this study, the clinical characteristics, laboratory findings, and clinical outcomes of all enrolled patients with acute PE, with or without underlying cardiopulmonary diseases, were compared and contrasted. In addition, the performance of 2 clinical models for the diagnosis of PE was retrospectively evaluated.

Results: As of January 2005, 4444 patients with symptomatic PE have been enrolled in RIETE. Of those, 632 patients (14%) had COPD and 422 (9.5%) had CHF. Significant differences were found in clinical presentation and 3-month outcomes among the 3 groups. With the Geneva model, there was a lower percentage of PE patients with COPD (relative risk [RR] 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.66-1.02) or CHF (RR 0.73; 95% CI, 0.56-0.95) who fell into the low pretest probability category, compared with patients with neither. Besides, the percentage of patients with high probability of PE was similar among the 3 patient groups. The frequency of COPD (61%) and CHF (72%) patients with a high pretest probability for PE increased when using the Pisa score, but the percentage of COPD patients into the high probability group was lower (RR 0.60; 95% CI, 0.51-0.71).

Conclusions: Significant differences exist in PE patients with and without underlying cardiopulmonary diseases. The performance of the 2 clinical prediction models varied according to the presence or absence of underlying COPD or CHF.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / etiology*