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Ana Maria Balahura, Andrada Guţă, Vlad Mihalcea, Emma Weiss, Maria Dorobanţu, Daniela Bartoş, Elisabeta Bădilă and Gheorghe Andrei Dan

Abstract

Introduction. Pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) represents a medical emergency and is the third most common cause of mortality after myocardial infarction and stroke. The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics and management of patients with PTE admitted in a referral emergency hospital in Romania.

Material and methods. We retrospectively reviewed all cases of PTE diagnosed in one of the largest emergency hospitals in Bucharest during a 2-year period (January 2014 – December 2016). Patients with acute PTE were identified by a database search of the diagnostic codes of all discharge diagnoses. Demographic, clinical and paraclinical tests data was retrieved from medical records.

Results. 221 patients (48.87% male, mean age 61.76 years (range 21-94 years)) were diagnosed with PTE in our hospital (0.31% of all hospitalizations). Dyspnea was the most frequent symptom reported (78.9%), followed by pleuritic chest pain (23.9%) and unilateral leg pain (15.8%). Upon presentation, 12.6% of patients had high-risk PTE. Up to 72.8% of patients had at least one thrombotic risk factor, while cancer (14%) was the most frequent amongst them. The mean length of hospitalization was 10.3 ± 4.6 days. Unfractioned heparin (UFH) was the preferred anticoagulant during hospital stay (73.7%, p < 0.001). Vitamin K antagonists (AVK) were the preferred anticoagulant (71.7%, p < 0.001) after discharge, whereas non-antivitamin K oral anticoagulants (NOAC) were recommended in 26.3% of patients. Thrombolysis was used in 18 (8.4%) cases. Mortality was 0.9%. Younger patients more frequently associated thrombophilia or a previous thromboembolic event and clinical signs of DVT at presentation. Older patients associated more frequently a history of hospitalization for heart failure or atrial fibrillation during the previous 3 months and a history of cancer. The clinical presentation in older patients was more severe, with higher PESI scores (103.6 ± 33.4 vs. 55.5 ± 17.9, p<0.001) and a longer hospital stay (10.7 ± 4.7 vs. 9.2 ± 3.9, p = 0.03). The type of anticoagulant treatment did not differ depending on age.

Conclusion. In our emergency hospital, PTE is a relatively rare cause of hospitalization; the rate is, however, comparable with other major hospitals. Dyspnea and pleuritic chest pain was the clinical presentation dyad. UFH was the preferred anticoagulant for in-hospital treatment while AVK was the preferred option for long term treatment and recurrence prophylaxis; however an increasing number of patients are prescribed NOAC. In older patients clinical severity was higher upon presentation, hospitalization duration was increased and cancer was more frequently associated. Younger patients associated more frequently a primary hypercoagulable state and recurrent thromboembolism. Mortality rate was low during hospitalization, comparable with that seen in other studied populations.