Pulmonary embolism (PE) response teams (PERT) have been developed to improve in-hospital mortality. Identifying intermediate risk PE patients that will progress despite anticoagulation is difficult, especially because outcomes with modern anticoagulation are quite good.
The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the rate of anticoagulation failure (new deep vein thrombosis or PE, right ventricular failure resulting in shock, cardiac arrest, or PE-attributable death) in intermediate risk PE patients managed by PERT. The secondary objective was to determine whether there was a significant decrease in heart rate 24 h after initiation of anticoagulation in intermediate risk PE.
This was a retrospective observational study of patients treated for acute intermediate risk PE at the University of Rochester Medical Center who also had outpatient followup between November 2016-June 2019.
Ninety-two patients presented as intermediate-risk PE and had outpatient followup. Seventy-four patients were initially treated with anticoagulation. None of these patients failed anticoagulation. Of the eighteen intermediate risk patients that underwent advanced intervention, none failed anticoagulation first. There was significant decrease in resting heart rate 24 h after starting therapeutic anticoagulation, 107 beats/min vs 89 beats/min, p = 0.0001.
We did not observe anticoagulation failure in the management of acute, intermediate risk PE. Reductions in heart rate may reflect improvements in right ventricular function; we hypothesize that those whose heart rate does not fall may be optimal candidates for advanced intervention.

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