EuroIntervention 2023;19:772-781. DOI: 10.4244/EIJ-D-23-00399
Background: Reperfusion therapy is challenging in the elderly. Catheter-directed therapies are an alternative for higher-risk pulmonary embolism (PE) patients if systemic thrombolysis (ST) is contraindicated or has failed. Their safety has not been evaluated in specific vulnerable populations.
Aims: We aimed to assess the safety of reperfusion therapies in elderly and frail patients in the real world.
Methods: In the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 2016 to 2020, we identified hospitalisations of patients ≥65 years with PE and defined a frailty subgroup using the Johns Hopkins Adjusted Clinical Groups frailty-defining diagnosis indicator. We investigated reperfusion therapies (ST, catheter-directed thrombolysis [CDT], catheter-based thrombectomy [CBT], surgical embolectomy [SE]) and their associated safety outcomes (overall and major bleeding).
Results: Among 980,245 hospitalisations of patients ≥65 years with PE (28.0% frail), reperfusion therapies were used in 4.9% (17.6% among high-risk PE). ST utilisation remained stable, while the use of catheter-directed therapies increased from 1.7% in 2016 to 3.2% in 2020. Among all hospitalisations with reperfusion, CDT, compared to ST, was associated with reduced major bleeding (5.8% vs 12.2%, odds ratio [OR] 0.58, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.49-0.70); these results also applied to frail patients. CBT, compared to SE, was also associated with reduced major bleeding (11.0% vs 22.4%, OR 0.63, 95% CI: 0.43-0.91), but not among frail patients. These differences were particularly significant in patients with non-high-risk PE. Differences persisted for overall bleeding as well.
Conclusions: Catheter-directed therapies may be a safer alternative to classical reperfusion therapies for elderly and frail patients with PE requiring reperfusion treatment.
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