Admissions for pulmonary embolism at a tertiary South African hospital.
Kistensamy, Sivaisen Ricardo.
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Background: Published descriptions of pulmonary embolism (PE) from South African (SA) settings are rare. We sought to address this gap in the literature. Methods: This was a case series involving 61 adult patients admitted to a tertiary SA hospital over a five-year period with a primary diagnosis of PE. Data related to patient demographics, PE presentation, risk factors, treatment, and inpatient mortality were collected and analysed using appropriate statistical tests. Results: Most of our study population were younger (86.9%), female (67.2%), and of black African ethnicity (73.8%). Dyspnoea and chest pain were the most common symptoms (prevalence of 86.9% and 41.0%). Prevalent clinical signs included tachypnea (47.5%) and tachycardia (42.6%). The most prevalent established risk factors were cardiac failure (49.2%) and a history of deep vein thrombosis (up to 19.7%). Massive PE was diagnosed in 8.2% of study patients. Most patients received anticoagulation therapy (95.1%), with thrombolysis and embolectomy performed only in smaller proportions (24.6% and 11.5%) of patients. The incidence of inpatient mortality was 23.0%. Characteristics associated with mortality included: admission route (p=0.008), dyspnoea (p=0.002), tachycardia (p<0.001), and embolectomy (p=0.042). Conclusion: Our study findings have important implications related to the management of PE in SA.