Background: Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a well-recognized risk factor for venous thromboembolism (VTE) and is associated with higher mortality in patients with an acute pulmonary embolism (PE). There are very few data on how acute PE affects the clinical course of patients with heart failure. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of an acute PE on the short-term prognosis of patients hospitalized for decompensated CHF.
Methods: This was a prospective cohort study of 198 patients admitted to a coronary care unit between July 2001 and March 2003 with severe decompensated CHF. The primary outcome measure was death or rehospitalization at 3 months.
Results: PE was confirmed in 18 of 198 patients enrolled (9.1%). The groups with and without PE were comparable with regards to demographics, the prevalence of comorbid conditions, and severity of CHF (p > 0.05). The prevalence of cancer (p = 0.0001), previous VTE (p = 0.003), and right ventricular overload (p = 0.006) was higher in the PE group. The presence of PE was also associated with a longer hospital stay (37.5 ± 71.6 days vs 15.4 ± 15.0 days, p = 0.001) [mean ± SD] and a higher incidence of death or rehospitalization at 3 months (72.2% vs 43.9%, p = 0.02). In a multiple logistic regression analysis, PE remained an independent predictor of death or rehospitalization at 3 months (odds ratio, 4.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 15.1; p = 0.038).
Conclusions: Acute PE commonly complicates the hospital course of patients with severe CHF, increasing the length of hospital stay and the chance of death or rehospitalization at 3 months.