The Value of Electrocardiographic Abnormalities in the Prognosis of Pulmonary Embolism: A Consensus Paper

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Electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities in the setting of acute pulmonary embolism (PE) are being increasingly characterized and mounting evidence suggests that ECG plays a valuable role in prognostication for PE. We review the historical 21-point ECG prognostic score for the severity of PE and examine the updated evidence surrounding the utility of ECG abnormalities in prognostication for severity of acute PE. We performed a literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed up to February 2015. Article titles and abstracts were screened, and articles were included if they were observational studies that used a surface 12-lead ECG as the instrument for measurement, a diagnosis of PE was confirmed by imaging, arteriography or autopsy, and analysis of prognostic outcomes was performed. Thirty-six articles met our inclusion criteria. We review the prognostic value of ECG abnormalities included in the 21-point ECG score, including new evidence that has arisen since the time of its publication. We also discuss the potential prognostic value of several ECG abnormalities with newly identified prognostic value in the setting of acute PE.

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