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Short-term clinical outcome of patients with acute pulmonary embolism, normal blood pressure, and echocardiographic right ventricular dysfunction.

Circulation 2000 June 21
BACKGROUND: The role of echocardiographic right ventricular (RV) dysfunction in predicting clinical outcome in clinically stable patients with pulmonary embolism (PE) is undefined. In this study, we assessed the prevalence and clinical outcome of normotensive patients with RV dysfunction among a broad spectrum of PE patients.

METHODS AND RESULTS: This prospective clinical outcome study included cohort of 209 consecutive patients (age, 65+/-15 years) with documented PE. Acute RV dysfunction was diagnosed in the presence of >/=1 of the following: RV dilatation (without hypertrophy), paradox septal systolic motion, and Doppler evidence of pulmonary hypertension. Four groups were identified: 28 patients presenting with shock or cardiac arrest (13%), 19 hypotensive patients without shock (9%), 65 normotensive patients with echocardiographic RV dysfunction (31%), and 97 normotensive patients without RV dysfunction (47%). Among normotensive patients with RV dysfunction, 6 (10%) developed PE-related shock after admission: 3 of these patients died, and 3 were successfully treated with thrombolytic agents. In comparison, none of the 97 normotensive patients without RV dysfunction developed shock or died as a result of PE.

CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion (31%) of normotensive patients with acute PE presents with RV dysfunction; these patients with latent hemodynamic impairment have a 10% rate of PE-related shock and 5% in-hospital mortality and may require aggressive therapeutic strategies. Conversely, normotensive patients without echocardiographic RV dysfunction have a benign short-term prognosis. Thus, early detection of echocardiographic RV dysfunction is of major importance in the risk stratification of normotensive patients with acute PE.

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