The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence and prognostic value of the most common triggering factors in acute heart failure.
Patients with acute heart failure from 41 Spanish emergency departments were recruited consecutively in three time periods between 2011 and 2016. Precipitating factors were classified as: (a) unrecognized; (b) infection; (c) atrial fibrillation; (d) anaemia; (e) hypertension; (f) acute coronary syndrome; (g) non-adherence; and (h) two or more precipitant factors. Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression models were used to assess the association between 30-day mortality and each precipitant factor. The risk of dying was further evaluated by week intervals over the 30-day follow-up to assess the period of higher vulnerability for each precipitant factor.
Approximately 69% of our 9999 patients presented with a triggering factor and 1002 died within the first 30 days (10.0%). The most prevalent factors were infection and atrial fibrillation. After adjusting for 11 known predictors, acute coronary syndrome was associated with higher 30-day mortality (odds ratio (OR) 1.87; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-3.42), whereas atrial fibrillation (OR 0.75; 95% CI 0.56-0.94) and hypertension (OR 0.34; 95% CI 0.21-0.55) were significantly associated with better outcomes when compared to patients without precipitant. Patients with infection, anaemia and non-compliance were not at higher risk of dying within 30 days. These findings were consistent across gender and age groups. The 30-day mortality time pattern varied between and within precipitant factors.
Precipitant factors in acute heart failure patients are prevalent and have a prognostic value regardless of the patient’s gender and age. They can be managed with specific treatments and can sometimes be prevented.