Background: Clinical congestion is the most frequent reason for hospital admission in patients with acute heart failure (AHF). However, few studies have investigated the patterns and prognostic implication of the physical congestion using unbiased and robust statistical methods. Methods: A hierarchical agglomerative clustering analysis was performed in the multicenter Japanese AHF registry (N = 3151) with the distance calculated by Jaccard's distance for jugular vein distention (JVD), leg edema, S3, crackles, and orthopnea. The primary outcome was a composite of cardiac death and heart failure readmission within 1-year. Results: At the time of admission, the median number of prevalent congestive signs was 2. We identified three phenogroups: ‘no physical congestions’ (N = 251); ‘congestion without JVD’ (N = 1415); and ‘congestion with JVD’ (N = 1495). Patients in ‘no physical congestion’ were the youngest (median 75 [62, 83] years) with the lowest systolic blood pressure (122 [106, 142] mmHg). Patients in ‘congestion without JVD’, and ‘congestion with JVD’ were similar in terms of age (77 [67, 84] vs. 78 [69, 84] years) and systolic blood pressure (138 [118, 160] vs. 137 [118, 158] mmHg). While 30-day mortality was similar (4.0%, 3.7%, and 4.3% in ‘no physical congestion,’ ‘congestion without JVD,’ and ‘congestion with JVD’, respectively), the patients in ‘congestion with JVD’ were at the highest risk for the primary outcome (adjusted hazard ratio 1.79, 95% CI 1.26–2.55 when ‘no physical congestion’ was a reference). Conclusions: Our clustering analysis demonstrated that congestion signs, particularly JVD, allowed identification of AHF phenogroups with distinct clinical characteristics and long-term outcomes.
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