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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Demographics and Outcomes of Pulmonary Hypertension Patients in United States Emergency Departments


Introduction: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a common, yet under-diagnosed, contributor to morbidity and mortality. Our objective was to characterize the prevalence of PH among adult patients presenting to United States (US) emergency departments (ED) and to identify demographic patterns and outcomes of PH patients in the ED.

Methods: We analyzed the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) database, with a focus on ED patients aged 18 years and older, with any International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modification (ICD)-9-CM or ICD-10-CM diagnosis code for PH from 2011 to 2015. The primary outcome was inpatient, all-cause mortality. The secondary outcomes were hospital admission rates and hospital length of stay (LOS).

Results: From 2011 to 2015, in a sample of 121,503,743 ED visits, representing a weighted estimate of 545,500,486 US ED visits, patients with a diagnosis of PH accounted for 0.78% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.75- 0.80%) of all US ED visits. Of the PH visits, 86.9% were admitted to the hospital, compared to 16.3% for all other ED visits (P <0.001). Likewise, hospital LOS and hospital-based mortality were higher in the PH group than for other ED patients (e.g., inpatient mortality 4.5% vs 2.6%, P < 0.001) with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 1.34 (95% CI, 1.31–1.37). Age had the strongest association with mortality, with an aOR of 10.6 for PH patients over 80 years (95% CI, 10.06–11.22), compared to a reference of ages 18 to 30 years.

Conclusion: In this nationally representative sample, presentations by patients with PH were relatively common, accounting for nearly 0.8% of US ED visits. Patients with PH were significantly more likely to be admitted to the hospital than all other patients, had longer hospital LOS, and increased risk of inpatient mortality.

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