Active search for chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension does not appear indicated after acute pulmonary embolism

Thromb Res. 2010 May;125(5):e202-5. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2009.12.016. Epub 2010 Jan 20.


Introduction: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) is a life threatening but often, by pulmonary endarterectomy, curable disease. The incidence of CTEPH after an acute pulmonary embolism (PE) appears to be much higher than previously thought. Systematic follow-up of patients after PE might increase the number of diagnosed CTEPH patients.

Aim: To study whether, compared to current clinical practice, a systematic search for CTEPH in patients after acute PE would increase the number of patients diagnosed with symptomatic, potentially treatable CTEPH.

Methods: Consecutive patients with a prior diagnosis of acute PE were presented with a questionnaire, designed to establish the presence of either new or worsened dyspnea after the acute PE episode. If so, patients were evaluated for the presence of CTEPH.

Results: PE patients (n=110; 56+/-18 years) were included after a median follow-up of three years. Overall mortality was 34% (37 patients); 1 patient had died due to CTEPH. In total 62 out of 69 questionnaires were returned; 23 patients reported new or worsened dyspnea related to the PE episode, and qualified for additional testing. In 2 patients, CTEPH was already diagnosed prior to this study. None of the remaining patients met the criteria for the diagnosis of CTEPH. The overall incidence of 2.7% (3/110; 95%CI 0.6-7.8%) is in agreement with earlier reported incidences.

Conclusion: Our findings do not point to a role for a systematic search and pro-active approach towards patients with a recent history of pulmonary embolism to increase the number of patients diagnosed with potentially treatable CTEPH.

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / epidemiology*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors