Venous thromboembolism (VTE) refers to two different conditions: deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and its potentially life-threatening acute complication, pulmonary embolism (PE). VTE refers to a blood clot that starts in a vein. It is the third leading vascular diagnosis after heart attack and stroke, affecting between 300,00 to 600,00 Americans each year.

What is venous thromboembolism?

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Deep Vein Thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis results from the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) inside a deep vein, usually in the leg or pelvis, which either partially or totally blocks the flow of blood in the vein. It increases the risk of recurring clots and may cause serious complications such as pulmonary embolism or post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). Approximately one third of patients  with symptomatic deep vein thrombosis also develop a pulmonary embolism.

Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism occurs when a deep vein clot, or part of it, breaks loose and travels to one of the lungs where it may block circulation. It is a serious and growing complication. Pulmonary embolism develops suddenly, often without warning and can be fatal in up to 40% of cases within three months. It is considered to be the leading cause of preventable in-hospital death. Those who survive can be affected by permanent damage to the affected lung and other vital organs as oxygenated blood cannot be circulated. Pulmonary embolism may also lead to complications such as chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH).

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VTE is estimated to be the third most common cardiovascular disorder after coronary heart disease and stroke.

VTE kills more people than AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and traffic accidents combined.

Undiagnosed VTE may result in significant additional burden on healthcare systems and lead to considerable underestimation of number of events and ultimately deaths worldwide.

There is over 900,000 VTE events annually in the US, 600,000 DVT events and 300,000 PE1 events.

There are more than 750,000 VTE events estimated to occur annually in six major EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, UK).

Source: “The Role of Thrombolysis in the Clinical Management of Deep Vein Thrombosis”, Radka Krishna Popuriand Suresh Vedantham.ArteriosclerThrombVascBiol. 2011;31:479-484

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