Echocardiography does not predict mortality in hemodynamically stable elderly patients with acute pulmonary embolism

Thromb Res. 2016 Sep;145:67-71. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2016.07.014. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


Background: The evidence on the prognostic value of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in elderly, hemodynamically stable patients with Pulmonary Embolism (PE) is limited.

Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of common echocardiographic signs of right ventricular (RV) dysfunction and their prognostic impact in hemodynamically stable patients aged ≥65years with acute PE in a prospective multicenter cohort.

Methods: TTE was performed by cardiologists. We defined RV dysfunction as a RV/left ventricular ratio >0.9 or RV hypokinesis (primary definition) or the presence of ≥1 or ≥2 of 6 predefined echocardiographic signs (secondary definitions). Outcomes were overall mortality and mortality/non-fatal recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) at 30days, adjusting for the Pulmonary Embolism Severity Index risk score and highly sensitive troponin T values.

Results: Of 400 patients, 36% had RV dysfunction based on our primary definition, and 81% (≥1 sign) and 53% (≥2 signs) based on our secondary definitions, respectively. Using our primary definition, there was no association between RV dysfunction and mortality (adjusted HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.31-2.58) and mortality/non-fatal VTE (adjusted HR 1.09, 95% CI 0.40-2.98). Similarly, there was no statistically significant association between the presence of ≥1 or ≥2 echocardiographic signs (secondary definitions) and clinical outcomes.

Conclusion: The prevalence of echocardiographic RV dysfunction varied widely depending upon the definition used. There was no association between RV dysfunction and clinical outcomes. Thus, TTE may not be suitable as a stand-alone risk assessment tool in elderly patients with acute PE.

Clinical trial registration: Identifier: NCT00973596.

Keywords: Echocardiography; Mortality; Pulmonary embolism.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data