Persistent right ventricular dysfunction, functional capacity limitation, exercise intolerance, and quality of life impairment following pulmonary embolism: Systematic review with meta-analysis

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Abstract

Long-term right ventricular (RV) function, functional capacity, exercise capacity, and quality of life following pulmonary embolism (PE), and the impact of thrombolysis, are unclear. A systematic review of studies that evaluated these outcomes with ≥ 3-month mean follow-up after PE diagnosis was performed. For each outcome, random effects meta-analyses were performed. Twenty-six studies (3671 patients) with 18-month median follow-up were included. The pooled prevalence of RV dysfunction was 18.1%. Patients treated with thrombolysis had a lower, but not statistically significant, risk of RV dysfunction versus those treated with anticoagulation (odds ratio: 0.51, 95% CI: 0.24 to 1.13, p=0.10). Pooled prevalence of at least mild functional impairment (NYHA II–IV) was 33.2%, and at least moderate functional impairment (NYHA III–IV) was 11.3%. Patients treated with thrombolysis had a lower, but not statistically significant, risk of at least moderate functional impairment versus those treated with anticoagulation (odds ratio: 0.48, 95% CI: 0.15 to 1.49, p=0.20). Pooled 6-minute walk distance was 415 m (95% CI: 372 to 458 m), SF-36 Physical Component Score was 44.8 (95% CI: 43 to 46), and Pulmonary Embolism Quality of Life (QoL) Questionnaire total score was 9.1. Main limitations included heterogeneity among studies for many outcomes, variation in the completeness of data reported, and inclusion of data from non-randomized, non-controlled, and retrospective studies. Persistent RV dysfunction, impaired functional status, diminished exercise capacity, and reduced QoL are common in PE survivors. The effect of thrombolysis on RV function and functional status remains unclear.

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