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Epidemiology, Clinical and Paraclinical Presentations of Pulmonary Embolism: A Cross-Sectional Study in a Sub-Saharan Africa Setting

DOI: 10.4236/ojrd.2019.93008, PP. 89-99

Keywords: Epidemiology, Africa, Venous Thromboembolism, Symptoms

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Background: Venous thromboembolic (VTE) disease burden is increasing worldwide, representing a major cause of cardiovascular death and public health problem. Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the most serious clinical presentation of VTE. Epidemiological and clinical data on PE are still lacking in Africa, particularly in Cameroon. This study aimed at determining the clinical features as well as imaging presentation and outcome of pulmonary embolism. Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in three hospitals in Douala. We retrospectively reviewed patient records admitted for PE from January 2009 to May 2017. We collected data on epidemiology, clinical presentation, venous Doppler/pulmonary computed tomographic angiography (CTA), and outcome. Results: We included 103 patients (56 males) with PE. Their median age was 52 years. The main risk factors were obesity (49.5%), hypertension (35.0%), long trip (24.3%) and cancer (18.4%). The most frequent clinical presentations were dyspnoea (83.4%), chest pain (78.6%), and cough (40.8%). Additionally, pleural effusion (32.8%), atelectasis (25.7%) and pulmonary hyperlucency (20.0%) were the most frequent findings on chest X-ray. The main abnormalities found in electrocardiogram were sinus tachycardia (63.4%), S1Q3T3 aspect (37.6%) and right axial deviation (28.7%). Moreover, right cavities dilatation (26.0%), pulmonary artery hypertension (35.0%) and pulmonary artery dilatation (21.0%) were the main echocardiographic findings. Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) was the initial anticoagulant in all cases. There were 19 (18.4%) in-hospital deaths, and the mean hospital stay was 8.5 ± 5 days. Conclusion: PE is not rare in our setting. Obesity, long trip and cancer are the main risk factors, while dyspnoea, chest pain and respiratory distress are the main clinical presentation for PE. LMWH remains the therapeutic agent of choice. Lastly, in-hospital mortality is very high.


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