Studies on long-term mortality after venous thromboembolism (VTE) are sparse.
Using Danish medical databases, we conducted a 30-year nationwide population-based cohort study of 128 223 patients with first-time VTE (1980-2011) and a comparison cohort of 640 760 people from the general population (without VTE) randomly matched by sex, year of birth, and calendar period. The mortality risks for patients with deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) were markedly higher than for the comparison cohort during the first year, especially within the first 30 days (3.0% and 31% versus 0.4%). Using Cox regression, we assessed mortality rate ratios (MRRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). The overall 30-year MRR was 1.55 (95% CI, 1.53-1.57) for DVT and 2.77 (95% CI, 2.74-2.81) for PE. The 30-day MRR was 5.38 (95% CI, 5.00-5.80) for DVT and 80.87 (95% CI, 76.02-86.02) for PE. Over time, the 30-day MRR was consistently 5- to 6-fold increased for DVT, whereas it improved for PE from 138 (95% CI, 125-153) in 1980 to 1989 to 36.08 (95% CI, 32.65-39.87) in 2000 to 2011. The 1- to 10-year and 11- to 30-year MRRs remained 25% to 40% increased after both DVT and PE but were 3- to 5-fold increased after DVT and 6- to 11-fold increased after PE when VTE was considered the immediate cause of death.
Patients with VTE are at increased risk of dying, especially within the first year after diagnosis, but also during the entire 30 years of follow-up, with VTE as an important cause of death. Although 30-day mortality after DVT remained fairly constant over the last 3 decades, it improved markedly for PE.