Estimated Annual Number of Incident and Recurrent, Non-Fatal and Fatal Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) Events in the US.

John A. Heit, Alexander T. Cohen and Frederick A. Anderson Jr.


Background The total annual number of VTE events and related deaths in the US is unknown, largely because the complete spectrum of disease (including asymptomatic events and sudden deaths) occurring in the community is under-recognized.

Objective To estimate the total annual number of non-fatal and fatal deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) events (incident and recurrent) in the US.

Methods We developed an incidence-based model that included both hospital- and community-acquired VTE events as well as death from recognized and unrecognized VTE. We estimated the annual number of community-acquired events using the average age-, sex-, and event-specific incidence rates in Olmsted County, MN (1966–1990) and Y2000 US census data. We estimated the annual number of hospital-acquired events using patient age and Y2002 International Classification of Disease (ICD-9) discharge diagnosis codes for major surgery types or acute medical illnesses within the Healthcare Utilization and Cost Database, which includes major discharge diagnoses from all US acute-care hospitals. Patients were included in the hospital model if they were deemed at risk of VTE according to current American College of Chest Physicians definitions. The hospital at-risk population was divided into categories according to type of surgery or medical diagnosis on admission. We estimated the annual number of VTE events based on the published probability of VTE with and without prophylaxis, and US prophylaxis rates, by risk group. Fatal and recurrent events were estimated based on published data. The effects of VTE and prophylaxis rate uncertainty on our estimates were tested using sensitivity analyses.

Results The estimated total annual number of symptomatic VTE events in the US exceeded 600,000, (DVT, n=376,365; PE, n=237,058. Table).

Event TypeCommunityHospitalTotal
Non-Fatal ---------n----------

Annual Number of Non-Fatal and Fatal, Community- and Hospital-Acquired Symptomatic VTE Events in the US

VTE-related deaths were estimated at 296,370 annually. Of these deaths, 21,223 (7%) patients were diagnosed with VTE and treated, 101,032 (34%) were sudden fatal PE and 174,115 (59%) followed undetected PE. Approximately two-thirds of symptomatic VTE events were hospital-acquired and one-third were community-acquired.

Conclusions Our study confirms that VTE is a major US health problem. Given that effective VTE prophylaxis and expert consensus prophylaxis guidelines are widely available, these data suggest that universal, safe and effective prophylaxis could significantly reduce US VTE incidence and related deaths. Future studies should address the impact of universal VTE prophylaxis on VTE incidence and survival.