Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Clinical and Population Health Research


Quantitative Health Sciences

First Thesis Advisor

Robert Goldberg, PhD


deep vein thrombosis, venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, incidence, prevalence, event rate, attack rate, recurrence, adverse events, outcomes research, prognostic/prediction models


Dissertations, UMMS; Pulmonary Embolism; Venous Thromboembolism; Venous Thrombosis; Epidemiologic Studies


Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE), comprising the conditions of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), is a common acute cardiovascular event associated with increased long-term morbidity, functional disability, all-cause mortality, and high rates of recurrence. Major advances in identification, prophylaxis, and treatment over the past 3-decades have likely changed its clinical epidemiology. However, there are little published data describing contemporary, population-based, trends in VTE prevention and management.

Objectives: To examine recent trends in the epidemiology of clinically recognized VTE and assess the risk of recurrence after a first acute episode of VTE.

Methods: We used population-based surveillance to monitor trends in acute VTE among residents of the Worcester, Massachusetts, metropolitan statistical area (WMSA) from 1985 through 2009, including in-hospital and ambulatory settings.

Results: Among 5,025 WMSA residents diagnosed with acute PE and/or lower-extremity DVT between 1985 and 2009 (mean age = 65 years), 46% were men and 95% were white. Age- and sex-adjusted annual event rates (per 100, 000) of clinically recognized acute first-time and recurrent VTE was 142 overall, increasing from 112 in 1985/86 to 168 in 2009, due primarily to increases in PE occurrence. During this period, non-invasive diagnostic VTE testing increased, vi while treatment shifted from the in-hospital (chiefly with warfarin and unfractionated heparin) to out-patient setting (chiefly with low-molecular-weight heparins and newer anticoagulants). Among those with community-presenting first-time VTE, subsequent 3-year cumulative event rates of key outcomes decreased from 1999 to 2009, including all-cause mortality (41% to 26%), major bleeding episodes (12% to 6%), and recurrent VTE (17% to 9%). Active-cancer (with or without chemotherapy), a hypercoagulable state, varicose vein stripping, and Inferior vena cava filter placement were independent predictors of recurrence during short- (3-month) and long-term (3-year) follow-up after a first acute episode of VTE. We developed risk score calculators for VTE recurrence based on a 3-month prognostic model for all patients and separately for patients without active cancer.

Conclusions: Despite advances in identification, prophylaxis, and treatment between 1985 and 2009, the disease burden from VTE in residents of central Massachusetts remains high, with increasing annual events. Declines in the frequency of major adverse outcomes between 1999 and 2009 were reassuring. Still, mortality, major bleeding, and recurrence rates remained high, suggesting opportunities for improved prevention and treatment. Clinicians may be able to use the identified predictors of recurrence and risk score calculators to estimate the risk of VTE recurrence and tailor outpatient treatments to individual patients.



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