Severe asthma greatly increases the risk of pulmonary embolism (study)

Patients with asthma have activated coagulation within the airways which may lead to an increase in venous thromboembolic events (VTE). This study from The Netherlands assessed the incidence of VTE in 648 patients with mild-moderate and severe asthma as compared to a control population.

All patients completed a questionnaire about a diagnosis of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) in the past, their risk factors, history of asthma and medication use. All VTE were objectively verified.

In total, 35 VTE events occurred at a median age of 39 years, 16 events of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and 19 events of pulmonary embolism (PE).

The incidence of PE in patients with severe asthma was 0.93 (per 1000 person-years, 0.33 in mild-moderate asthma, and 0.18 in the control group, respectively. Severe asthma and oral corticosteroid use were independent risk factors of PE (hazard ratios: 3.33 and 2.82 respectively). Asthma was not associated with DVT.

The study authors concluded that severe asthma greatly enhances the risk of pulmonary embolism, particularly if chronic corticosteroids are used.


Risk of deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in asthma. Christof J. Majoor et al. ERJ December 20, 2012 erj01503-2012.
Image source: Saphenous vein, Gray's Anatomy, 1918 (public domain).

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