Functional decline in emergency department patients with dyspnea: A register-based cohort

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Background: Functional decline is associated with frequent hospital admissions and elevated risk of death. Presumably, patients acutely admitted to hospital with dyspnea have a high risk of functional decline. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe patient characteristics, hospital trajectory and use of physiotherapy services by dyspneic patients in an emergency department. The study also wanted to compare readmission and death among patients with and without a functional decline and to identify predictors of functional decline. Methods: Data originated from a historic cohort of patients admitted to a Danish Emergency Department using prospectively collected electronic patient record data from a Business Intelligence Registry of the Central Denmark Region. The study included adult patients who were treated at the emergency department (ED) for dyspnea in 2015. The main outcome measures were readmission, death and functional decline. Results: In total, 2048 dyspneic emergency treatments were registered. Within 30 days after discharge, 20% was readmitted and 3.9% had died. Patients with functional decline had a higher rate of 30-day readmission (31.2% vs. 19.1%, P < 0.001) and mortality (9.3% vs. 3.6%, P = 0.009) as well as mortality within 1 year (36.1% vs. 13.4%, P < 0.001). Predictors of functional decline were age ≥60 years and hospital stay ≥6 days. Conclusion: Patients suffering from acute dyspnea are seen at the ED at all hours. In total, one in five patients were readmitted and 3.9% died within 30 days. Patients with a functional decline at discharge seem to be particularly vulnerable.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermzab047
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Society for Quality in Health Care. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

    Research areas

  • dyspnea, emergency department, physical activity, physical decline, risk factors

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