Comparative Study
Journal Article
Multicenter Study
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Prospective cardiopulmonary screening program to detect chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension in patients after acute pulmonary embolism.

Haematologica 2010 June
BACKGROUND: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension after pulmonary embolism is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Understanding the incidence of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension after pulmonary embolism is important for evaluating the need for screening but is also a subject of debate because of different inclusion criteria among previous studies. We determined the incidence of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension after acute pulmonary embolism and the utility of a screening program for this disease.

DESIGN AND METHODS: We conducted a cohort screening study in an unselected series of consecutive patients (n=866) diagnosed with acute pulmonary embolism between January 2001 and July 2007. All patients who had not been previously diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH) and had survived until study inclusion were invited for echocardiography. Patients with echocardiographic suspicion of PH underwent complete work-up for chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, including ventilation-perfusion scintigraphy and right heart catheterization.

RESULTS: After an average follow-up of 34 months of all 866 patients, PH was diagnosed in 19 patients by routine clinical care and in 10 by our screening program; 4 patients had chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, all diagnosed by routine clinical care. The cumulative incidence of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension after all cause pulmonary embolism was 0.57% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.02-1.2%) and after unprovoked pulmonary embolism 1.5% (95% CI 0.08-3.1%).

CONCLUSIONS: Because of the low incidence of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension after pulmonary embolism and the very low yield of the echocardiography based screening program, wide scale implementation of prolonged follow-up including echocardiography of all patients with pulmonary embolism to detect chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension does not seem to be warranted.

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