Venous thromboembolism: Disease burden, outcomes and risk factors

John A. Heit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

332 Scopus citations


The epidemiology of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in the community has important implications for VTE prevention and management. This review describes the disease burden (incidence), outcomes (survival, recurrence and complications) and risk factors for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism occurring in the community. Recent comprehensive studies of the epidemiology of VTE that reported the racial demography and included the full spectrum of disease occurring within a well-defined geographic area over time, separated by event type, incident vs. recurrent event and level of diagnostic certainty, were reviewed. Studies of VTE outcomes had to include a relevant duration of follow-up. VTE incidence among whites of European origin exceeded 1 per 1000; the incidence among persons of African and Asian origin may be higher and lower, respectively. VTE incidence over recent time remains unchanged. Survival after VTE is worse than expected, especially for pulmonary embolism. Thirty percent of patients develop VTE recurrence and venous stasis syndrome. Exposures can identify populations at risk but have a low predictive value for the individual. An acquired or familial thrombophilia may predict the subset of exposed persons who actually develop symptomatic VTE. In conclusion, VTE is a common, lethal disease that recurs frequently and causes serious long-term complications. To improve survival and prevent complications, VTE occurrence must be reduced. Better individual risk stratification is needed in order to modify exposures and target primary and secondary prophylaxis to the person who would benefit most.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1611-1617
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2005


  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Epidemiology
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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