The role of ethnicity, age and gender in venous thromboembolism
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Venous thromboembolism, including both deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, is the leading cause of preventable in-hospital mortality. In the inexorable progress towards individualization of risk and personalized medicine, several congenital and acquired risk factors have been identified. However, the influence of some demographical variables, especially ethnicity, age and gender, has largely been under appreciated. Although the incidence of venous thromboembolism varies widely among diverse racial/ethnic cohorts, it appears globally highest in Blacks, is intermediate in Caucasians and is lowest in Asians. The incidence and prevalence of venous thromboembolism is also strongly age-related, increasing nearly 90 fold from <15 to >80 years old. Definitive data on the relative frequency of venous thromboembolism across genders is lacking. Some studies report that gender is not an independent risk factor of venous thromboembolism, while others conclude that female gender might be a protective variable. The purpose of this review is to assess the relationship between such demographic variables and venous thromboembolism.