Arterial Ischemic Events Are a Major Complication in Cancer Patients with Venous Thromboembolism

Am J Med. 2018 Sep;131(9):1095-1103. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2018.04.037. Epub 2018 May 26.


Background: Venous thromboembolism is common in patients with malignancies, affecting up to 10% of this patient population. The association between arterial ischemic events and venous thromboembolism also has been established. However, the influence of arterial ischemic events on outcomes in cancer patients with venous thromboembolism has not been fully determined.

Methods: The current study analyzed clinical characteristics, time course, risk factors, incidence and severity of venous thromboembolism recurrences, arterial ischemic events and major bleeding in 5717 patients with active cancer and venous thromboembolism recruited into RIETE (multi-center prospective registry of patients with objectively confirmed venous thromboembolism).

Results: During the anticoagulation course (median 7.3 months), 499 (8.7%) patients developed venous thromboembolism recurrences, 63 (1.1%) developed arterial events, and 346 (6.1%) suffered from major bleeding. Overall, major bleeding and arterial events appeared earlier (median 35 and 36 days, respectively) than venous thromboembolism recurrences (median 97 days). Thirty-day mortality rates after each event were: 20% after recurrent pulmonary embolism, 13% after recurrent deep vein thrombosis, 41% after major bleeding, 40% after myocardial infarction, 64% after ischemic stroke, and 83% after lower limb amputation. Bleeding was the leading cause of death (67 fatal bleeds), whereas cumulative mortality due to arterial ischemic events (n = 27) was similar to that related to pulmonary embolism recurrences (n = 26).

Conclusions: In this study, arterial ischemic events and major bleeding appeared early after venous thromboembolism in patients with active cancer and were among frequent causes of their deaths. The risk and severity of arterial events need to be considered in this clinical setting.

Keywords: Arterial ischemic events; Bleeding; Cancer; Venous thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amputation, Surgical / statistics & numerical data
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / epidemiology
  • Recurrence
  • Registries
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / drug therapy
  • Venous Thromboembolism / epidemiology*
  • Venous Thrombosis / epidemiology


  • Anticoagulants