Emergency department risk assessment and disposition of acute heart failure patients: existing evidence and ongoing challenges

Heart Fail Rev. 2022 Sep 20. doi: 10.1007/s10741-022-10272-4. Online ahead of print.


Heart failure (HF) is a global public health burden, characterized by frequent emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. Identifying successful strategies to avoid admissions is crucial for the management of acutely decompensated HF, let alone resource utilization. The primary challenge for ED management of patients with acute heart failure (AHF) lies in the identification of those who can be safely discharged home instead of being admitted. This is an elaborate decision, based on limited objective evidence. Thus far, current biomarkers and risk stratification tools have had little impact on ED disposition decision-making. A reliable definition of a low-risk patient profile is warranted in order to accurately identify patients who could be appropriate for early discharge. A brief period of observation can facilitate risk stratification and allow for close monitoring, aggressive treatment, continuous assessment of response to initial therapy and patient education. Lung ultrasound may represent a valid bedside tool to monitor cardiogenic pulmonary oedema and determine the extent of achieved cardiac unloading after treatment in the observation unit setting. Safe discharge mandates multidisciplinary collaboration and thoughtful assessment of socioeconomic and behavioural factors, along with a clear post-discharge plan put forward and a close follow-up in an outpatient setting. Ongoing research to improve ED risk stratification and disposition of AHF patients may mitigate the tremendous public health challenge imposed by the HF epidemic.

PMID:36123519 | DOI:10.1007/s10741-022-10272-4

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