Clinical Benefit of Hospitalization for Older Adults With Unexplained Syncope: A Propensity-Matched Analysis

Ann Emerg Med. 2019 Aug;74(2):260-269. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.03.031. Epub 2019 May 9.


Study objective: Many adults with syncope are hospitalized solely for observation and testing. We seek to determine whether hospitalization versus outpatient management for older adults with unexplained syncope is associated with a reduction in postdisposition serious adverse events at 30 days.

Methods: We performed a propensity score analysis using data from a prospective, observational study of older adults with unexplained syncope or near syncope who presented to 11 emergency departments (EDs) in the United States. We enrolled adults (≥60 years) who presented with syncope or near syncope. We excluded patients with a serious diagnosis identified in the ED. Clinical and laboratory data were collected on all patients. The primary outcome was rate of post-ED serious adverse events at 30 days.

Results: We enrolled 2,492 older adults with syncope and no serious ED diagnosis from April 2013 to September 2016. Mean age was 73 years (SD 8.9 years), and 51% were women. The incidence of serious adverse events within 30 days after the index visit was 7.4% for hospitalized patients and 3.19% for discharged patients, representing an unadjusted difference of 4.2% (95% confidence interval 2.38% to 6.02%). After propensity score matching on risk of hospitalization, there was no statistically significant difference in serious adverse events at 30 days between the hospitalized group (4.89%) and the discharged group (2.82%) (risk difference 2.07%; 95% confidence interval -0.24% to 4.38%).

Conclusion: In our propensity-matched sample of older adults with unexplained syncope, for those with clinical characteristics similar to that of the discharged cohort, hospitalization was not associated with improvement in 30-day serious adverse event rates.

Trial registration: NCT01802398.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / trends
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Medically Unexplained Symptoms
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Propensity Score
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Syncope / complications
  • Syncope / diagnosis*
  • Syncope / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology

Associated data