Prevalence and Predictors of Pulmonary Embolism in Korean Patients with Exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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Background:Data concerning the rate of pulmonary embolism (PE) in Asian patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation are sparse, and no study has shown predictors of PE in these patients.Objectives:The purpose of the present study was to investigate the prevalence and predictors of PE in Korean patients with COPD exacerbation.Methods:Hospitalized patients with COPD exacerbations were prospectively enrolled into this study and underwent computed tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography and indirect CT venography.Results:The most common cause of COPD exacerbation was lower respiratory tract infection (82%; n = 84), followed by PE (5%; n = 5). Eight patients (8%) had venous thromboembolism, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) was seen in 6%, with proximal DVT in 4%. On multivariate analysis, the absence of symptoms of respiratory infection and plasma D-dimer elevation (≥500 μg/l) were significant factors predicting PE in patients with COPD exacerbations (odds ratio 31, 95% confidence interval 2-563, p = 0.02, and odds ratio 25, 95% confidence interval 1-464, p = 0.03, respectively).Conclusions:PE comprises approximately 5% of the etiologies of COPD exacerbations in Koreans. The absence of symptoms suggestive of respiratory infection and elevated plasma D-dimer levels were significant predictors of PE in this population.

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