Background: There is little information on the influence of body mass index (BMI) on mortality in patients with acute venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Patients and methods: RIETE is an ongoing registry of consecutive patients with symptomatic, objectively confirmed, acute VTE. We examined the association between BMI and mortality during the first 3 months of therapy.
Results: Of the 10 114 patients enrolled as of March 2007: 153 (1.5%) were underweight (BMI < 18.5); 2882 (28%) had a normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9); 4327 (43%) were overweight (BMI 25.0-30); and 2752 (27%) were obese (BMI > 30). The overweight and obese patients were significantly older, and were less likely to have had cancer, recent immobility or renal insufficiency. After 3 months of therapy their death rates were 28%, 12%, 6.2% and 4.2%, respectively. In multivariate analysis, the relative risks for death after adjusting for confounding variables including age, cancer, renal insufficiency or idiopathic VTE were: 2.1 (95% CI, 1.5-2.7); 1.0 (reference); 0.6 (95% CI, 0.5-0.7); and 0.5 (95% CI, 0.4-0.6), respectively. The rates of fatal pulmonary embolism (2.0%, 2.1%, 1.2% and 0.8%, respectively) also decreased with BMI. There were no differences in the rate of fatal bleeding, but patients who were underweight had an increased incidence of major bleeding complications (7.2% vs. 2.7%; odds ratio, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.4-5.1).
Conclusions: Obese patients with acute VTE have less than half the mortality rate when compared with normal BMI patients. This reduction in mortality rates was consistent among all subgroups and persisted after multivariate adjustment.