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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Safety of thrombolytic therapy in elderly patients with massive pulmonary embolism: a comparison with nonelderly patients.

OBJECTIVES. The aim of the study was to prospectively estimate the safety of thrombolytic therapy in elderly patients with massive pulmonary embolism in comparison with that in nonelderly patients. BACKGROUND. In massive pulmonary embolism, lysis of thrombi can be achieved faster with thrombolytic therapy than with conventional heparin therapy, but it is administered with great caution in elderly patients because the risk of bleeding is thought to be higher than in nonelderly patients. Yet, thrombolytic therapy might be of value in elderly patients also, in allowing potentially more rapid improvement than is achieved with conventional heparin therapy. METHODS. Eighty-nine patients with massive pulmonary embolism defined as Miller score > or = 17/34 underwent thrombolytic therapy without consideration of age if they had no contraindication for such treatment. Fifty-three patients were < or = 70 years old (mean age +/- SD 54 +/- 15 years; range 18 to 70), and 36 patients were > or = 71 years old (78 +/- 5 years; range 71 to 88). Except for mean age, there were no significant differences between the two treatment groups, particularly in terms of clinical presentation, average Miller score and pulmonary artery pressure regimen. Thrombolytic therapy was administered in the form of streptokinase at a dose of 100,000 IU/h over 12 h, with an initial injection of 250,000 IU over 15 min. Heparin was introduced 12 h after initiation of thrombolytic therapy. Urokinase or tissue-type plasminogen activator was used only in case of contraindication to streptokinase. RESULTS. The frequency of uncomplicated clinical course was the same in both treatment groups. Surgical embolectomy was necessary in three nonelderly patients (5.6%) and one elderly patient (2.7%). Changes in pulmonary pressure regimen and Miller score were identical in both groups. Three patients died during the in-hospital course: two nonelderly patients (3.7%) and one elderly patient (2.7%). Minor bleeding occurred in five nonelderly (9.4%) and five elderly (13.8%) patients (p = 0.74). Major bleeding was observed in three nonelderly (5.6%) and five elderly (13.8%) patients (p = 0.29). Bleeding subsequent to early invasive procedure accounted for six (75%) of eight patients with major bleeding: two nonelderly patients (one of whom died) and four elderly patients. No intracranial hemorrhage was observed. No predisposing factor for bleeding was identified, except the need for early vascular access for pulmonary angiography through the femoral approach or for percutaneous insertion of an intracaval device for partial interruption of the inferior vena cava. CONCLUSIONS. Thrombolytic therapy administered for massive pulmonary embolism in patients free of contraindication yields similar results and carries a similar risk for bleeding complications in elderly compared with nonelderly patients. Limiting early invasive procedures may result in less frequent major bleeding complications.[1]


  1. Safety of thrombolytic therapy in elderly patients with massive pulmonary embolism: a comparison with nonelderly patients. Meneveau, N., Bassand, J.P., Schiele, F., Bouras, Y., Anguenot, T., Bernard, Y., Schultz, R. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. (1993) [Pubmed]
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