Stage B heart failure is ubiquitous in emergency patients with asymptomatic hypertension

Kimberly Souffront, Bret P. Nelson, Megan Lukas, Hans Reyes Garay, Lauren Gordon, Thalia Matos, Isabella Hanesworth, Rebecca Mantel, Claire Shubeck, Cassidy Bernstein, George T. Loo, Lynne D. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Hypertension is the leading risk factor for morbidity and mortality throughout the world and is pervasive in United States emergency departments (ED). This study documents the point prevalence of subclinical heart disease in emergency patients with asymptomatic hypertension. Method: This was a prospective observational study of ED patients with asymptomatic hypertension conducted at two urban academic EDs that belong to an eight-hospital healthcare organization in New York. Adult (≤18 years of age) English-or Spanish-speaking patients who had an initial blood pressure (BP) ≤160/100 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and second BP ≤140/90 mm Hg, and pending discharge, were invited to participate in the study. We excluded patients with congestive heart failure, renal insufficiency, and atrial fibrillation, or who were pregnant, a prisoner, cognitively unable to provide informed consent, or experiencing symptoms of hypertension. We assessed echocardiographic evidence of subclinical heart disease (left ventricular hypertrophy, and diastolic and systolic dysfunction). Results: A total of 53 patients were included in the study; a majority were young (mean 49.5 years old, [SD 14 52]), self-identified as Black or Other (n = 39; 73.5%), and female (n = 30; 56.6%). Mean initial blood pressure was 172/100 mm Hg, and 24 patients (45.3%) self-reported a history of hypertension. Fifty patients completed an echocardiogram. All (100%) had evidence of subclinical heart disease, with 41 (77.4%) displaying left ventricular hypertrophy and 31 (58.5%) diastolic dysfunction. There was a significant relationship between diastolic dysfunction and female gender [x2 (1, n = 53) = 3.98; P = 0.046]; Black or other race [x2 (3, n = 53) = 9.138; P = 0.03] and Hispanic or other ethnicity [x2 (2, n = 53) = 8.03; P = 0.02]. Less than one third of patients demonstrated systolic dysfunction on echocardiogram, and this was more likely to occur in patients with diabetes mellitus [x2 (1, n = 51) = 4.84; P = 0.02]. Conclusion: There is a high probability that Black, Hispanic, and female patients with asymptomatic hypertension are on the continuum for developing overt heart failure. Emergency clinicians should provide individualized care that considers their unique health needs, cultural backgrounds, and social determinants of health. [West J Emerg Med. 2024;25(2)160 165.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-165
Number of pages6
JournalWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


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