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Danish researchers have found a strong link between hospital admission for venous thromboembolism and later heart attack or strokestroke.. In two matched cohorts of Danish adults, the 25199 people admitted with deep venous thrombosis were 1.6 times more likely to have a heart attack (95% CI 1.35 to 1.91) and more than twice as likely to have a stroke during the next year (2.19, 1.85 to 2.60) than 163566 population controls. Risks were even higher for adults admitted with pulmonary embolism (2.60, 2.14 to 3.14 for heart attack; 2.93, 2.34 to 3.66 for stroke). The association between venous thromboembolism and later arterial cardiovascular events weakened after the first year but remained significant for at least 20 years. Both cohorts came from Danish national databases.
Because venous thromboembolism doesn't cause heart attacks or strokes, the link between these conditions is probably mediated by a shared risk factor, says a commentary (p 1742). Obesity is the strongest candidate, but diabetes and smoking are also risk factors for both.
Should patients with venous thromboembolism be given statins, aspirin, or other treatments to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke? Not at this stage, says the editorial. We don't know enough about the mechanisms linking these two previously distinct types of disease.