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Clinical Investigations: PULMONARY VASCULATURE |

Incidence of Acute Pulmonary Embolism in a General Hospital*: Relation to Age, Sex, and Race

Paul D. Stein, MD, FCCP; Hsiu-ling Huang, BS; Adnan Afzal, MD; Hussam A. Noor, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute, Detroit, MI.

Correspondence to: Paul D. Stein, MD, FCCP, Henry Ford Health System, Cardiac Wellness Center, 6525 Second Ave, Detroit, MI 48202-3006; e-mail: pstein1@hfhs.org



Chest. 1999;116(4):909-913. doi:10.1378/chest.116.4.909
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Purpose: The purpose of this investigation is to determine the incidence of acute pulmonary embolism (PE) according to age, sex, and race in a tertiary care general hospital.

Background: Population-based investigations and autopsy studies have shown that acute PE occurs predominantly in middle-aged and elderly people. The incidence of PE according to age, race, and sex in a general hospital has been only sparsely studied.

Methods: Patients with PE diagnosed by a high-probability ventilation/perfusion lung scan or pulmonary angiography were identified in a tertiary care general hospital. The incidence of PE was determined according to age, sex, and race.

Results: The incidence of PE was 400 of 175,730 (0.23%; 95% CI, 0.21 to 0.25%). The incidence was linearly related to age (r = 0.94). Among patients ≥ 50 years of age, the incidence of PE was higher among women (0.40% vs 0.29%; p < 0.01). The incidence was comparable among patients < 50 years of age. African Americans showed an incidence of 0.26%, and whites showed an incidence of 0.21% (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Acute PE in a tertiary care hospital is more frequent than previously reported among short-term hospitals. Occasionally, young adults and adolescents had PE, although PE occurred primarily among middle-aged and elderly patients. Among patients ≥ 50 years of age, the incidence of PE was higher among women. The incidence was not higher among women < 50 years of age, suggesting that childbirth and birth control pills had little impact. Only a trivial difference of the incidence of PE was observed among African Americans compared to whites.

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