High plasma lactate levels are associated with increased risk of in-hospital mortality in patients with pulmonary embolism

Acad Emerg Med. 2011 Aug;18(8):830-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2011.01128.x.


Objectives: The objective was to investigate the prognostic value of plasma lactate in patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE).

Methods: This was a retrospective study at the emergency department (ED) of a third-level teaching hospital. The authors considered consecutive patients with a diagnosis of PE established by lung scan or spiral computed tomography (CT) and confirmed by pulmonary angiography if necessary. Only patients for whom plasma lactate levels had been tested within 6 hours from presentation to the ED were included. Primary outcome was in-hospital death due to any cause; secondary outcome was mortality related to PE.

Results: From September 1997 to June 2006, a total of 384 patients were diagnosed with PE in the ED. Of these patients, 287 had registered plasma lactate levels and were included in this analysis. Included patients had a mean age of 70 (SD ± 15 years, range = 18 to 100 years), 163 (57%) were female, 26 (9%) showed systolic blood pressure lower than 100 mm Hg at presentation, and 160 (56%) had echocardiographic evidence of right ventricular dysfunction (RVD). Twenty patients died during their hospital stay (7%). Plasma lactate levels ≥ 2 mmol/L were associated with in-hospital mortality from all causes (odds ratio [OR] = 4.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.57 to 13.53) and with PE-related mortality (OR = 4.94, 95% CI = 1.38 to 17.63), independent of hypotension or RVD at presentation.

Conclusions: High plasma lactate was associated with increased in-hospital mortality in this sample of patients with acute PE.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Cause of Death
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Lactates / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / blood*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality*
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Lactates