J Intensive Care Med. 2023 Jul 16:8850666231188290. doi: 10.1177/08850666231188290. Online ahead of print.
High-risk pulmonary embolism (PE) also known as massive PE carries a high rate of morbidity and mortality. The incidence of high-risk PE continues to increase, yet the outcomes of high-risk PE continue to remain poor. Patients with high-risk PE are often critically ill, with complex underlying physiology, and treatment for the high-risk PE patient almost always requires care and management from an intensivist. Treatment options for high-risk PE continue to evolve rapidly with multiple options for definitive reperfusion therapy and supportive care. A thorough understanding of the physiology, risk stratification, treatment, and support options for the high-risk PE patient is necessary for all intensivists in order to improve outcomes. This article aims to provide a review from an intensivist's perspective highlighting the physiological consequences, risk stratification, and treatment options for these patients as well as providing a proposed algorithm to the risk stratification and acute management of high-risk PE.