Cardiology. 2021 Mar 10:1-7. doi: 10.1159/000513695. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Since 2008, specialized chest pain units (CPUs) were implemented across Germany ensuring structured diagnostics in acute chest pain. This study aims to analyze the management of pulmonary embolism (PE) patients in such certified CPUs.
METHODS: Data were retrieved from 13,902 patients enrolled in the German CPU registry and analyzed for the diagnosis of PE including patient characteristics, critical time intervals, diagnostic workup, treatment, and prognosis. PE patients were compared to the overall CPU patient cohort. Only patients with a complete 3-month follow-up were included.
RESULTS: Overall, 1.1% of all CPU patients were diagnosed with PE. Chest pain and dyspnea were the leading symptoms. Patients with PE were older, presented with higher heart rates, and more frequently exhibited signs of heart failure, despite a normal left ventricular function. PE patients showed significantly longer time delays between symptom onset and the first medical contact, while PE patients with chest pain presented earlier than PE patients with dyspnea only. Whereas more PE patients had to be transferred to the intensive care unit, in-CPU mortality and event rates over 3 months were low.
DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: This study suggests a certain risk for underdiagnosis and consecutive potential undertreatment of PE patients in German Cardiac Society (GCS)-certified CPUs, which is thought to result from an anticipated focus on patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Public awareness for PE beyond chest pain should be improved. Certified CPUs should be urged to implement strategic pathways for a better simultaneous diagnostic workup of differential diagnosis beyond ACS.