Prevalence and economic burden of pulmonary embolism in Germany

Vasc Med. 2012 Oct;17(5):303-9. doi: 10.1177/1358863X12449363. Epub 2012 Jun 29.


The prevalence of pulmonary embolism (PE), PE mortality and treatment-associated costs for the years 2000 to 2006 were analysed using a statutory health insurance sample of AOK Hesse/KV Hesse, which contained information for an 18.75% random sample of 1.9 million persons insured with the AOK Hesse. Within the sample a PE diagnosis was accepted as valid if it was documented as the main discharge diagnosis or as an additional hospital diagnosis during hospitalization and if at least one of the following criteria was met: prescription of oral anticoagulants or heparins, PE documented for at least two quarterly periods or documented in only one quarter for patients who died within 28 days after hospital discharge. The economic burden from the perspective of the insurance fund was assessed by an analysis of resource consumption (direct costs) and by a matched pair analysis with controls without PE to estimate excess costs. A 99% winsorization of each cost category was performed to control for extreme outlying values. The prevalence of PE as the main discharge diagnosis and an additional hospital diagnosis varied from 55.3 to 71.7 per 100,000 insurants in the years 2000 to 2006. Insurants aged 80 years and more had a prevalence of 406.9 per 100,000 (year 2006). From 2001 to 2003 the in-hospital mortality rate ranged from 20.4% to 24.9% and decreased to 14% in 2006. A total of 85% of all patients with PE who survived the first year had at least one prescription of vitamin K antagonists. For patients who survived the first year, treatment costs exceeded € 20,000, with an estimation of additional costs of € 5816 for men and € 8962 for women in the matched-pair analysis. Owing to high in-hospital costs, the overall cost of treatment was highest for patients younger than 60 years. In conclusion, the prevalence rate of PE in Germany is comparable to international data. Treatment costs within the first year after hospital discharge are high, and there is a need to clarify the settings associated with PE in Germany with its high rate of prophylaxis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / economics
  • Anticoagulants / economics*
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Costs
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Hospital Costs
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / economics
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Embolism / economics*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anticoagulants