Pleural effusions in acute decompensated heart failure: Prevalence and prognostic implications

Published:February 07, 2018DOI:


      • The incidence of PEs in patients with ADHF reaches nearly 50%.
      • Isolated right and left-sided PEs are not an atypical finding in ADHF.
      • Male gender, sPAP, serum prealbumin and serum NT-pBNP were associated with PE development.
      • PEs might be an indicator of pulmonary hypertension and right HF.
      • PEs are not an independent predictor of 1-year mortality in ADHF.



      The incidence of pleural effusions (PEs) in acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is not well established. We aimed to determine their prevalence, clinical characteristics and prognostic implications.


      Retrospective review of 3245 consecutive patients with ADHF from the Spanish RICA Registry. The clinical characteristics of those with or without PEs on chest radiographs were compared and a predictive PE model was generated.


      Patient's median age was 80 years and 60% had a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) >50%. PEs were seen in 46% of the cases, and their distribution was as follows: 58% bilateral, 27% right-sided and 14% left-sided. Male gender (OR 2.18; 95%CI 1.23–3.87), serum amino-terminal fraction of the pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-pro-BNP) levels >3500 pg/ml (OR 2.2; 95%CI 1.25–3.77), estimated systolic pulmonary artery pressure (sPAP) >55 mm Hg by echocardiography (OR 2.05; 95%CI 1.12–3.75), and serum prealbumin <15 mg/l (OR 1.96; 95%CI 1.08–3.52) were associated with PE development in a multivariate analysis. Serum NT-proBNP >8000 pg/ml, and systolic arterial pressure <110 mm Hg, but not PEs, independently predicted overall 1-year mortality.


      PEs are present on chest radiographs in nearly half of ADHF patients. They are mainly bilateral or right-sided and predominate in males with elevated sPAP on echocardiography and high serum levels of NT-proBNP. PEs do not independently predict 1-year mortality.


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