We aimed to determine the frequency and predictors of exercise limitation after pulmonary embolism (PE) and to assess its association with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and dyspnea.Methods
One hundred patients with acute PE were recruited at five Canadian hospitals from 2010 to 2013. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) was performed at 1 and 12 months. Quality of life (QoL), dyspnea, 6-min walk distance (6MWD), residual clot burden (perfusion scan, CT pulmonary angiography), cardiac function (echocardiography), and pulmonary function tests (PFTs) were measured during follow-up. The prespecified primary outcome was percent predicted peak oxygen uptake (Vo2 peak) < 80% at 1-year CPET.Results
At 1 year, 40 of 86 patients (46.5%) had percent predicted Vo2 peak < 80% on CPET, which was associated with significantly worse generic health-related QoL (HRQoL), PE-specific HRQoL and dyspnea scores, and significantly reduced 6MWD at 1 year. Predictors of the primary outcome included male sex (relative risk [RR], 3.2; 95% CI, 1.3-8.1), age (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.96-0.99 per 1-year age increase), BMI (RR 1.1; 95% CI, 1.01-1.2 per 1 kg/m2 BMI increase), and smoking history (RR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1-2.9), as well as percent predicted Vo2 peak < 80% on CPET at 1 month (RR, 3.8; 95% CI,1.9-7.2), and 6MWD at 1 month (RR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.7-0.9 per 30-m increased walking distance). Baseline or residual clot burden was not associated with the primary outcome. Mean PFT and echocardiographic results (pulmonary artery pressure, right and left ventricular systolic function) at 1 year were similarly within normal limits in both patients with exercise limitations and those without such limitations.Conclusions
Almost half of patients with PE have exercise limitation at 1 year that adversely influences HRQoL, dyspnea, and walking distance. CPET or 6MWD testing at 1 month may help to identify patients with a higher risk of exercise limitation at 1 year after PE. Based on our results, we believe that the deconditioning that occurs after acute PE could underlie this exercise limitation, but we cannot exclude the fact that this may have been present before PE.Trial Registry
ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT01174628; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.