Orthostatic vital signs do not predict 30 day serious outcomes in older emergency department patients with syncope: A multicenter observational study

Am J Emerg Med. 2019 Dec;37(12):2215-2223. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2019.03.036. Epub 2019 Mar 25.


Background: Syncope is a common chief complaint among older adults in the Emergency Department (ED), and orthostatic vital signs are often a part of their evaluation. We assessed whether abnormal orthostatic vital signs in the ED are associated with composite 30-day serious outcomes in older adults presenting with syncope.

Methods: We performed a secondary analysis of a prospective, observational study at 11 EDs in adults ≥ 60 years who presented with syncope or near syncope. We excluded patients lost to follow up. We used the standard definition of abnormal orthostatic vital signs or subjective symptoms of lightheadedness upon standing to define orthostasis. We determined the rate of composite 30-day serious outcomes, including those during the index ED visit, such as cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, cardiac intervention, new diagnosis of structural heart disease, stroke, pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, subarachnoid hemorrhage, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, hemorrhage/anemia requiring transfusion, with major traumatic injury from fall, recurrent syncope, and death) between the groups with normal and abnormal orthostatic vital signs.

Results: The study cohort included 1974 patients, of whom 51.2% were male and 725 patients (37.7%) had abnormal orthostatic vital signs. Comparing those with abnormal to those with normal orthostatic vital signs, we did not find a difference in composite 30-serious outcomes (111/725 (15.3%) vs 184/1249 (14.7%); unadjusted odds ratio, 1.05 [95%CI, 0.81-1.35], p = 0.73). After adjustment for gender, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure (CHF), history of arrhythmia, dyspnea, hypotension, any abnormal ECG, physician risk assessment, medication classes and disposition, there was no association with composite 30-serious outcomes (adjusted odds ratio, 0.82 [95%CI, 0.62-1.09], p = 0.18).

Conclusions: In a cohort of older adult patients presenting with syncope who were able to have orthostatic vital signs evaluated, abnormal orthostatic vital signs did not independently predict composite 30-day serious outcomes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electrocardiography
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination
  • Prospective Studies
  • Syncope / epidemiology*
  • Vital Signs*