Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) are common public health problems. Still, little is known about the epidemiology and the natural history of venous thromboembolism.
In the Study of Men Born in 1913, 855 men were followed up prospectively from the age of 50 years to the age of 80 years. Several cross-sectional samples, also of men born in 1913, were studied at the ages of 50, 54,60,67, 75, and 80 years. Objective methods were used to ascertain a diagnosis of DVT or PE, and all were confirmed by hospital records or autopsy reports. The follow-up rate in the longitudinal study was 98.2%.
In the longitudinal study, the incidence of DVT was 182 per 100 000 observation-years. Corresponding incidence rates were 98 for nonfatal PE, 107 for fatal PE, and 387 for all thromboembolic events. The cumulative probability for a venous thromboembolic event at different ages was estimated to be 0.5% by the age of 50 years and 10.7% by the age of 80 years. In the cross-sectional studies, a history of confirmed venous thromboembolism was found in 0.5% of the men at age 50 years, 0.9% at age 54 years, 1.3% at age 60 years, 2.0% at age 67 years, 4.5% at age 75 years, and 3.8% at age 80 years.
The results indicate a high incidence of DVT and PE in the general population. The incidence of thromboembolic events increases with age. The rate of fatal PE seems to be higher than estimated before, and PE constitutes almost 5% of all deaths during follow-up.Arch Intern Med. 1997;157:1665-1670