Patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE) are at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, a new study has found.
The study, published in The Lancet, was conducted by researchers from the Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark led by Professor Henrik Sorensen.
The boffins carried out a 20-year population-based cohort study using data from nationwide Danish medical databases.
They analysed the risk of heart attack and stroke in 25199 patients with deep venous thrombosis, 16925 patients with pulmonary embolism, and 163566 population controls after excluding patients with a history of cardiovascular disease.
They found patients with deep vein thrombosis were at a 60 percent higher risk of a heart attack in the first year after the thrombotic event, and that they were at a 119 percent higher risk of stroke than controls.
Patients with pulmonary embolism were two-and-a-half times higher risk of getting an attack, and nearly three times higher risk of getting a stroke than controls in the first year after the thrombotic event.
This led the researchers to state that venous thromboembolism is associated with an increased long-term risk of arterial cardiovascular events.
"We find strong evidence that venous thromboembolism is associated with an increased long-term risk of arterial cardiovascular events, irrespective of the presence or absence of classic risk factors for venous thromboembolism," the Lancet quoted them, as saying.
"Common risk factors or pathways are most likely responsible for this association. Future studies are needed to further clarify the association, and to evaluate its implications for clinical practice."
They added that the value of preventive measures against heart attack and stroke in VTE patients is uncertain.
Professor Gordon Lowe, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, UK, said that the study showed the need for further studies in this area.
"Further epidemiological studies (especially prospective studies) and systematic reviews are needed to establish the magnitude, duration, and possible causes of increased risk of myocardial infarction and stroke after diagnosis of venous thromboembolism," he said.
"An assessment of absolute risk of myocardial infarction or stroke should be done, as has been recommended for all people aged 40 years and older (most patients with an episode of venous thromboembolism are older than 40 years), followed by appropriate lifestyle advice and consideration of drugs that lower cardiovascular risk," he added.