Usefulness of pulse deficit to predict in-hospital complications and mortality in patients with acute type A aortic dissection

Eduardo Bossone, Vincenzo Rampoldi, Christoph A Nienaber, Santi Trimarchi, Andrea Ballotta, Jeanna V Cooper, Dean E Smith, Kim A Eagle, Rajendra H Mehta et al.
American Journal of Cardiology 2002 April 1, 89 (7): 851-5
Vascular compromise seen with pulse deficits is common in patients with type A dissection. However, patient characteristics and in-hospital outcomes associated with pulse deficits have not been evaluated. Accordingly, we studied 513 patients (mean age 62 +/- 14 years, 65% men) with acute type A aortic dissection enrolled in the International Registry of Acute Aortic Dissection. Pulse deficits, defined as decreased or absent carotid or peripheral pulses as noted by clinicians and later confirmed by diagnostic imaging, at surgery or at autopsy were noted in 154 patients (30%). Age <70 years, male gender, neurologic deficit(s), altered mental status, and hypotension, shock, or tamponade on admission were all significantly higher in patients with than without pulse deficits. The etiology of aortic dissection, clinical symptoms, and imaging findings were similar in the 2 groups. In-hospital complications (hypotension, coma, renal failure, and limb ischemia) and mortality (41% vs 25%, p = 0.0002) were significantly higher in patients with pulse deficit. Cox proportional-hazards regression analysis identified pulse deficit as an independent predictor of 5-day in-hospital mortality (risk ratio 2.73, 95% confidence interval 1.7 to 4.4; p <0.0001). Further, overall mortality rates increased with an increasing number of pulse deficits (p for trend <0.0001). Pulse deficits are common findings in patients with type A aortic dissection and identify those at high risk of in-hospital adverse events. This simple clinical sign should direct physicians to consider a diagnosis of aortic dissection in patients with acute chest pain, and should help identify a subgroup of patients who would benefit from more aggressive strategies.

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