Objectives: In a large U.S. sample, this study measured the presentation features, testing, treatment strategies, and outcomes of patients diagnosed with pulmonary embolism (PE) in the emergency department (ED).
Background: No data have quantified the demographics, clinical features, management, and outcomes of outpatients diagnosed with PE in the ED in a large, multicenter U.S. study.
Methods: Patients of any hemodynamic status were enrolled from the ED after confirmed acute PE or with a high clinical suspicion prompting anticoagulation before imaging for PE. Exclusions were inability to provide informed consent (where required) or unavailability for follow-up.
Results: A total of 1,880 patients with confirmed acute PE were enrolled from 22 U.S. EDs. Diagnosis of PE was based upon positive results of computerized tomographic pulmonary angiogram in most cases (n = 1,654 [88%]). Patients represented both sexes equally, and racial and ethnic composition paralleled the overall U.S. ED population. Most (79%) patients with PE were employed, and one-third were older than age 65 years. The mortality rate directly attributed to PE was 20 in 1,880 (1%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0% to 1.6%). Mortality from hemorrhage was 0.2%, and the all-cause 30-day mortality rate was 5.4% (95% CI: 4.4% to 6.6%). Only 3 of 20 patients with major PE that ultimately proved fatal had systemic anticoagulation initiated before diagnostic confirmation, and another 3 of these 20 received a fibrinolytic agent.
Conclusions: Patients diagnosed with acute PE in U.S. EDs have high functional status, and their mortality rate is low. These registry data suggest that appropriate initial medical management of ED patients with severe PE with anticoagulation is poorly standardized and indicate a need for research to determine the appropriate threshold for empiric treatment when PE is suspected before diagnostic confirmation.
Copyright © 2011 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.