Pulmonary embolism (PE),
and its usual cause, deep vain thrombosis (DVT,
also Death may come from your legs), were causing significant
morbidity and mortality in the U.S. more than a decade ago. Despite that,
most people knew little, or nothing about them. Did things
change for the better as we speak?
Somewhat surprisingly, the mortality rate plummeted
in a couple of decades up to about 2010, dropping by some 50%, but after
that is on the rise. No official explanation for these numbers
seems to exist, so we can only guess about the real and
statistical factors that had produced them.
Official estimate, according to the CDC (Center
for Disease Control and Prevention) - which states that the exact
numbers are unknown - is that every year some 900.000 Americans are
affected with, as they call the condition, Venous
Thromboembolism (VTE), and
about 100.000 of them die.
with the blacks having nearly twice higher
mortality rates than whites
That would put VTE among the deadliest health
conditions. According to CDC, up to 30% will die within one
month from diagnosis, and the first symptom in about one in
every four that died from PE is sudden death.
VTE is also officially a leading cause of
preventable hospital deaths in the U.S. But out of hospitals it kills even more: a recent study of nearly half a million
surgeries at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals found
that about 6 in 10 patients that developed symptoms of VTE had
them up to 90 days after discharge.
Estimates are that
nearly 1/3 of patients discharged from
hospitals in the United States, or
12 million people
are at risk of PE. And it is known to be a
silent killer, because less than half of those who die were
diagnosed with it prior to death
Yet less than a half Americans know what is DVT,
and only about a quarter say they know about VTE.
On top of that, the true incidence of any of
these associated forms, DVT, PE and VTE, is unknown, simply
because they are not monitored closely enough.
All this oblivion for dying from not being able
to breathe because of PE is especially hard to understand in
face of all the panic because of dying from not being able to
breathe because of complications due to COVID-19.
The only difference is, really, that PE, in this
year alone - the worst, and most likely the only significant
COVID-19 year - will take
up to 10 times more lives.
1. Fadhil et al. PULMONARY EMBOLISM MORTALITY IN THE UNITED
STATES (1999-2015): ANALYSIS OF THE MULTIPLE CAUSE OF DEATH
2. Anderson et al.
Estimated annual numbers of US acute-care hospital patients at
risk for venous thromboembolism, 2007
3. Pineda et al. Clinical suspicion
of fatal pulmonary embolism. Chest, 2001