Identification of Hypotensive Emergency Department Patients with Cardiogenic Etiologies

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Identify predictors of cardiogenic etiology among emergency department (ED) patients with hypotension, and use these predictors to create a clinical tool to discern cardiogenic etiology of hypotension.


This secondary analysis evaluated a prospective cohort of consecutive patients with hypotension in an urban, academic, tertiary care ED from November 2012 to September 2013. We included adults with hypotension, defined as a new vasopressor requirement, systolic blood pressure (SBP) < 90 mm Hg after at least 1 L of crystalloid or 2 units packed red blood cells, or SBP < 90 mm Hg and fluids withheld due to concern for fluid overload. The primary outcome was cardiogenic etiology, adjudicated by two physician chart review, with 25% paired chart review (kappa = 0.92). We used multivariable logistic regression to predict cardiogenic etiology, utilizing clinical data abstracted from the electronic medical record. We created a prediction score from significant covariates and calculated its test characteristics for cardiogenic hypotension.


Of 700 patients with hypotension, 107 (15.3%, 95% CI: 12.6%–18.0%) had cardiogenic etiology. Independent predictors of cardiogenic etiology were shortness of breath (OR 4.1, 95% CI: 2.5–6.7), troponin > 0.1 ng/mL (37.5, 7.1–198.2), electrocardiographic ischemia (8.9, 4.0–19.8), history of heart failure (2.0, 1.1–3.3), and absence of fever (4.5, 2.3–8.7) (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.83). The prediction score created from these predictors yielded 78% sensitivity and 77% specificity for cardiogenic etiology (AUC = 0.827).


Clinical predictors offer reasonable ED screening sensitivity for cardiogenic hypotension, while demonstrating sufficient specificity to facilitate early cardiac interventions.

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