Prospective Validation and Comparative Analysis of Coronary Risk Stratification Strategies Among Emergency Department Patients With Chest Pain

J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Apr 6;10(7):e020082. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.020082. Epub 2021 Mar 31.


Background Coronary risk stratification is recommended for emergency department patients with chest pain. Many protocols are designed as "rule-out" binary classification strategies, while others use graded-risk stratification. The comparative performance of competing approaches at varying levels of risk tolerance has not been widely reported. Methods and Results This is a prospective cohort study of adult patients with chest pain presenting between January 2018 and December 2019 to 13 medical center emergency departments within an integrated healthcare delivery system. Using an electronic clinical decision support interface, we externally validated and assessed the net benefit (at varying risk thresholds) of several coronary risk scores (History, ECG, Age, Risk Factors, and Troponin [HEART] score, HEART pathway, Emergency Department Assessment of Chest Pain Score Accelerated Diagnostic Protocol), troponin-only strategies (fourth-generation assay), unstructured physician gestalt, and a novel risk algorithm (RISTRA-ACS). The primary outcome was 60-day major adverse cardiac event defined as myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, cardiogenic shock, coronary revascularization, or all-cause mortality. There were 13 192 patient encounters included with a 60-day major adverse cardiac event incidence of 3.7%. RISTRA-ACS and HEART pathway had the lowest negative likelihood ratios (0.06, 95% CI, 0.03-0.10 and 0.07, 95% CI, 0.04-0.11, respectively) and the greatest net benefit across a range of low-risk thresholds. RISTRA-ACS demonstrated the highest discrimination for 60-day major adverse cardiac event (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.92, 95% CI, 0.91-0.94, P<0.0001). Conclusions RISTRA-ACS and HEART pathway were the optimal rule-out approaches, while RISTRA-ACS was the best-performing graded-risk approach. RISTRA-ACS offers promise as a versatile single approach to emergency department coronary risk stratification. Registration URL:; Unique identifier: NCT03286179.

Keywords: acute coronary syndrome; emergency department; risk score.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chest Pain / blood
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chest Pain / epidemiology
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Electrocardiography / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Time Factors
  • Troponin / blood
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Troponin

Associated data