Prognostic stratification of pulmonary embolism: what does it change from 2014 European Society of Cardiology guidelines?

Luca Masotti, Giancarlo Landini, Gianni Lorenzini, Irene Chiti, Grazia Panigada



Prognostic stratification is of utmost importance for clinical management of acute pulmonary embolism (PE). Clinical presentation, echocardiography and biomarkers represented the key points on which recommendations of European Society of Cardiology (ESC) released in 2008 were based. In fact, in 2008 the ESC prognostic model suggested to divide acute PE in high risk, heamodynamically unstable, based on presentation with shock or hypotension, and non high risk, haemodynamically stable. The non high risk PE was divided in intermediate rand low risk PE based on echocardiographic
and biomarkers signs of right heart dysfunction (RHD) and myocardial damage. This approach was not an academic speculation but permitted to define the early mortality risk (>15% in high risk, 3-15% in intermediate risk, <1% in low risk) and bring the most appropriate treatment. Over the years it became clear that co-morbidity influenced the early mortality risk and may define better the low mortality risk. Practical clinical scores, such as the Pulmonary Embolism Severity Index, PESI, in its original or simplified version, demonstrated to have high prognostic power to identify high (early mortality risk over 10%) and low risk (early mortality risk ≤ 1%) patients. Furthermore, it has become clear that the combination of ESC prognostic model, based on haemodynamics, and clinical prognostic scores may improve the prognostic stratification of acute PE, especially for patients with intermediate risk in whom the range of early mortality risk is wide The latest version of ESC recommendations on management of acute PE released in August 2014 go toward this direction and suggest to divide the non high risk PE in low or intermediate risk taking in account the PESI score. In this review we describe the prognostic strategy of acute PE suggested from the latest version of ESC recommendations.


Pulmonary embolism; Prognosis; Severity index; Guidelines

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