Background: Pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) is a common clinical problem that is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Estimates of PTE mortality and predictions of PTE trends have varied widely. These estimates play a role in the planning of national health strategies. The analysis of pulmonary embolism mortality trends and comorbidities may elucidate how well we treat and prevent the disease as well as identify additional risk factors.
Methods: We analyzed PTE (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code 415.1) as reported on death certificates in the Multiple-Cause Mortality Files compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1979 to 1998.
Results: Of all the 42932973 decedents, 572773 (1.3%) had PTE listed on their death certificates and 194389 of these (33.9%) had PTE as the underlying cause of death. The age-adjusted rate of deaths with PTE decreased from 191 per million in 1979 to 94 per million in 1998 overall, decreasing 56% for men and 46% for women. During the study period, the age-adjusted mortality rates for blacks were consistently 50% higher than those for whites, and those for whites were 50% higher than those for people of other races (Asian, American Indian, etc). Within racial strata, mortality rates were consistently 20% to 30% higher among men than among women. Conditions that were of higher likelihood in persons who died with PTE included thrombophlebitis, fractures, trauma, postoperative complications, certain cancers, and the inflammatory bowel diseases.
Conclusions: Mortality with PTE in the United States has decreased during the 20-year period. The mortality rates between men and women and between racial groups vary substantially. These findings may be useful in better directing preventive therapy efforts.