Risk stratification of acute pulmonary embolism

J Thromb Haemost. 2023 Nov;21(11):3016-3023. doi: 10.1016/j.jtha.2023.05.003. Epub 2023 May 13.


Approximately 5% of pulmonary embolism (PE) cases present with persistent hypotension, obstructive shock, or cardiac arrest. Given the high short-term mortality, management of high-risk PE cases focuses on immediate reperfusion therapies. Risk stratification of normotensive PE is important to identify patients with an elevated risk of hemodynamic collapse or an elevated risk of major bleeding. Risk stratification for short-term hemodynamic collapse includes assessment of physiological parameters, right heart dysfunction, and identification of comorbidities. Validated tools such as European Society of Cardiology guidelines and Bova score can identify normotensive patients with PE and an elevated risk of subsequent hemodynamic collapse. At present, we lack high-quality evidence to recommend one treatment over another (systemic thrombolysis, catheter-directed therapy, or anticoagulation with close monitoring) for patients at elevated risk of hemodynamic collapse. Newer, less well-validated scores such as BACS and PE-CH may help identify patients at a high risk of major bleeding following systemic thrombolysis. The PE-SARD score may identify those at risk of major anticoagulant-associated bleeding. Patients at low risk of short-term adverse outcomes can be considered for outpatient management. The simplified Pulmonary Embolism Severity Index score or Hestia criteria are safe decision aids when combined with physician global assessment of the need for hospitalization following the diagnosis of PE.

Keywords: clinical decision rules; prognosis; pulmonary embolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / drug therapy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Shock* / etiology
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome