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Correspondence |

Are We Correctly Defining Intermediate-Risk Pulmonary Embolism?Defining Intermediate-Risk Pulmonary Embolism FREE TO VIEW

Mark A. Bradford, MD; Harrison W. Farber, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Pulmonary Center and the Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Mark A. Bradford, MD, Boston University School of Medicine, the Pulmonary Center, 72 E Concord St, R-304, Boston, MA 02118-2526; e-mail: alienanorexia@gmail.com


FINANCIAL/NONFINANCIAL DISCLOSURES: The authors have reported to CHEST that no potential conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2014;146(5):e169. doi:10.1378/chest.14-1362
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To the Editor:

We read with interest the article in CHEST (October 2014) by Doyen et al1 regarding patent foramen ovale in pulmonary embolism (PE). The rationale for this article is the possible inclusion of transesophageal echocardiography into algorithms for the use of fibrinolytics in patients with intermediate-risk PE. The authors based their definition of intermediate-risk PE on the 2008 European Society of Cardiology guidelines, which approximate the early-mortality risk for this group at 3% to 15%.2 We question the current validity of that definition given the results of past meta-analyses and the recent Pulmonary Embolism Thrombolysis (PEITHO) trial.3

Several meta-analyses have disputed the use of echocardiogram and cardiac biomarkers for risk stratification of normotensive patients. A 2004 meta-analysis of echocardiography in normotensive patients found the positive predictive value for PE-related in-hospital mortality to be only 4% and 5% in the two available studies.4 A 2007 meta-analysis showed that, indeed, an elevated troponin level was associated with increased mortality in normotensive patients with PE (OR, 5.90; 95% CI, 2.68-12.95),5 but given that the prevalence of death was 34 of 190 in patients with an elevated troponin level, the positive predictive value of an elevated troponin level for mortality was only 18%. A 2008 meta-analysis of brain natriuretic peptide in PE found that, in a subgroup of three studies that excluded unstable patients, an elevated brain natriuretic peptide level was associated with in-hospital mortality (pooled OR, 7.63; 95% CI, 2.08-28.07; P = .002), but the large CI suggests the need for further study.6

A recently published study of fibrinolytics for intermediate-risk PE by the PEITHO investigators only served to confirm these concerns about the ability to risk stratify patients with PE based on right ventricular dysfunction and cardiac biomarkers.3 According to the e-Appendix, the study had been powered for a predicted early mortality of 7% in the intermediate-risk group; yet the early mortality in the intermediate-risk placebo group reached only 1.8%, well short of expected. Without knowing whether the cohort in the current study is actually at a higher risk of early mortality, it is difficult not only to interpret the findings and conclusions, but also to determine how transesophageal echocardiography may be included (if at all) in PE algorithms for patient care.

References

Doyen D, Castellani M, Moceri P, et al. Patent foramen ovale and stroke in intermediate-risk pulmonary embolism. Chest. 2014;146(4):967-973. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Torbicki A, Perrier A, Konstantinides S, et al; ESC Committee for Practice Guidelines (CPG). Guidelines on the diagnosis and management of acute pulmonary embolism: the task force for the diagnosis and management of acute pulmonary embolism of the european society of cardiology (ESC). Eur Heart J. 2008;29(18):2276-2315. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Meyer G, Vicaut E, Danays T, et al; PEITHO Investigators. Fibrinolysis for patients with intermediate-risk pulmonary embolism. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(15):1402-1411. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
ten Wolde M, Söhne M, Quak E, Mac Gillavry MR, Büller HR. Prognostic value of echocardiographically assessed right ventricular dysfunction in patients with pulmonary embolism. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(15):1685-1689. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Becattini C, Vedovati MC, Agnelli G. Prognostic value of troponins in acute pulmonary embolism: a meta-analysis. Circulation. 2007;116(4):427-433. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Cavallazzi R, Nair A, Vasu T, Marik PE. Natriuretic peptides in acute pulmonary embolism: a systematic review. Intensive Care Med. 2008;34(12):2147-2156. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 

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References

Doyen D, Castellani M, Moceri P, et al. Patent foramen ovale and stroke in intermediate-risk pulmonary embolism. Chest. 2014;146(4):967-973. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Torbicki A, Perrier A, Konstantinides S, et al; ESC Committee for Practice Guidelines (CPG). Guidelines on the diagnosis and management of acute pulmonary embolism: the task force for the diagnosis and management of acute pulmonary embolism of the european society of cardiology (ESC). Eur Heart J. 2008;29(18):2276-2315. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Meyer G, Vicaut E, Danays T, et al; PEITHO Investigators. Fibrinolysis for patients with intermediate-risk pulmonary embolism. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(15):1402-1411. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
ten Wolde M, Söhne M, Quak E, Mac Gillavry MR, Büller HR. Prognostic value of echocardiographically assessed right ventricular dysfunction in patients with pulmonary embolism. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(15):1685-1689. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Becattini C, Vedovati MC, Agnelli G. Prognostic value of troponins in acute pulmonary embolism: a meta-analysis. Circulation. 2007;116(4):427-433. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Cavallazzi R, Nair A, Vasu T, Marik PE. Natriuretic peptides in acute pulmonary embolism: a systematic review. Intensive Care Med. 2008;34(12):2147-2156. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
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