Thrombolytic Therapy in Unstable Patients with Acute Pulmonary Embolism: Saves Lives but Underused

American Journal of Medicine, 04/26/2012

In–hospital all–cause case fatality rate and case fatality rate attributable to pulmonary embolism in unstable patients was lower in those who received thrombolytic therapy. Thrombolytic therapy resulted in a lower case fatality rate than using vena cava filters alone, and the combination resulted in an even lower case fatality rate. Thrombolytic therapy in combination with a vena cava filter in unstable patients with acute pulmonary embolism seems indicated.

Methods

  • In–hospital all–cause case fatality rate according to treatment was determined in unstable patients with pulmonary embolism who were discharged from short–stay hospitals throughout the United States from 1999 to 2008 by using data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample.
  • Unstable patients were in shock or ventilator dependent.

Results

  • Among unstable patients with pulmonary embolism, 21,390 of 72,230 (30%) received thrombolytic therapy.
  • In–hospital all–cause case fatality rate in unstable patients with thrombolytic therapy was 3105 of 21,390 (15%) versus 23,820 of 50,840 (47%) without thrombolytic therapy (P<.0001).
  • All–cause case fatality rate in unstable patients with thrombolytic therapy plus a vena cava filter was 505 of 6630 (7.6%) versus 4260 of 12,850 (33%) with a filter alone (P<.0001).
  • Case fatality rate attributable to pulmonary embolism in unstable patients was 820 of 9810 (8.4%) with thrombolytic therapy versus 1080 of 2600 (42%) with no thrombolytic therapy (P<.0001).
  • Case fatality rate attributable to pulmonary embolism in unstable patients with thrombolytic therapy plus vena cava filter was 70 of 2590 (2.7%) versus 160 of 600 (27%) with a filter alone (P<.0001).

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