HEART Failure? Episodes of Missed Major Cardiac Events When Applying the HEART Pathway to an Observation Unit Population

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Abstract

Objective:

The HEART Pathway risk prediction tool (HEART score plus serial troponin measures at 0 and 3 hours post-presentation) is used to identify low-risk patients with chest pain who may qualify for safe, early discharge. We calculated the percentage of patients in our observation unit that qualified as low risk using HEART Pathway, as well as their associated outcomes.

Methods:

We retrospectively reviewed charts on 966 consecutive patients admitted to our observation unit for chest pain (January 2015 to February 2016); HEART Pathway scores were retrospectively calculated and serial cardiac troponin values logged. The primary outcome was 42-day major adverse cardiac events (MACE), including acute myocardial infarction, urgent revascularization, and all-cause death.

Results:

The patients’ mean age was 59, 42% were male, 46% white, and 68 (7.7%) had MACE. HEART Pathway defined 384 patients as low risk (39.8%) and eligible for early discharge. Applying HEART Pathway would have missed 1.2% of patients with MACE; however, all adverse cardiac events occurred in patients with a HEART Pathway score of 3 (4 of 193, 2.1%) and none in those with a HEART Pathway score ≤2 (0 of 134).

Conclusions:

While the HEART Pathway identifies a pooled population at low risk for MACE, risk is not homogenous within this population. Patients with a score of 3 may have higher risk of 42-day MACE that may be unacceptable to some providers, while scores ≤2 saw no events. Caution is advised for those with HEART Pathway score of 3 until more data is available to accurately estimate risk.

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