Evaluation of a provocative dyspnea severity score in acute heart failure

Am Heart J. 2016 Feb;172:34-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2015.10.009. Epub 2015 Oct 20.


Background: The acute heart failure (AHF) Syndromes International Working Group proposed that dyspnea be assessed under standardized, incrementally provocative maneuvers and called for studies to assess the feasibility of this approach. We sought to assess the feasibility and statistical characteristics of a novel provocative dyspnea severity score (pDS) versus the traditional dyspnea visual analog scale (DVAS) in an AHF trial.

Methods: At enrollment, 24, 48 and 72hours, 230 ROSE-AHF patients completed a DVAS. Dyspnea was then assessed with 5-point Likert dyspnea scales administered during 4 stages (A: upright-with O2, B: upright-without O2, C: supine-without O2 and D: exercise-without O2). Patients with moderate or less dyspnea were eligible for the next stage.

Results: At enrollment, oxygen withdrawal and supine provocation were highly feasible (≥97%), provoking more severe dyspnea (≥1 Likert point) in 24% and 42% of eligible patients, respectively. Exercise provocation had low feasibility with 38% of eligible patients unable to exercise due to factors other than dyspnea. A pDS was constructed from Likert scales during the 3 feasible assessment conditions (A-C). Relative to DVAS, the distribution of the pDS was more skewed with a high "ceiling effect" at enrollment (23%) limiting sensitivity to change. Change in pDS was not related to decongestion or 60-day outcomes.

Conclusions: Although oxygen withdrawal and supine provocation are feasible and elicit more severe dyspnea, exercise provocation had unacceptable feasibility in this AHF cohort. The statistical characteristics of a pDS based on feasible provocation measures do not support its potential as a robust dyspnea assessment tool in AHF.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01927549.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Dyspnea / diagnosis*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Exercise Test
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Failure / blood
  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01927549