Effects of race and ethnicity on the incidence of venous thromboembolism

Thromb Res. 2009;123 Suppl 4:S11-7. doi: 10.1016/S0049-3848(09)70136-7.


Although there is strong evidence that the prevalence of venous thrombo-embolism (VTE) varies significantly among different ethnic/racial groups, the genetic, physiologic and/or clinical basis for these differences remain largely undefined. African-American patients have a significantly higher rate of incident VTE, particularly following exposure to a provoking risk factor such as surgery, medical illness, trauma, etc. In addition, African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with pulmonary embolism (PE) than deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) compared to Caucasian and other racial groups. On the other extreme, Asians/Pacific Islanders have a 70% lower prevalence of VTE and this is true for both idiopathic VTE and provoked, or 'secondary', VTE. Hispanics have a significantly lower prevalence of VTE compared to Caucasians, but higher than Asians/Pacific Islanders. The incidence of recurrent VTE varies depending on gender, type of thromboembolic event and race. Further research is needed in order to determine the fundamental differences between racial/ethnic groups that explain the observed differences in the prevalence of VTE. Race/ethnicity should be considered an important factor in the risk-stratification of patients with suspected VTE or patients at some risk for developing VTE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Asians*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Embolism / ethnology*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / prevention & control
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Venous Thromboembolism / ethnology*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control
  • Whites*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticoagulants
  • Fibrinolytic Agents