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.
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