JOURNAL ARTICLE

Risk factors for fatal venous thromboembolism in young women: a case-control study

M Thorogood, J Mann, M Murphy, M Vessey
International Journal of Epidemiology 1992, 21 (1): 48-52
1544757
A case-control study of fatal venous thromboembolism in young women is described. Sixty women aged between 16 and 39 who died from thromboembolism in England and Wales between 1986 and 1988 were included in the study. Two living controls matched for age and marital status were sought from the records of the general practitioner with whom each case was registered. Some 115 controls were included in the study. The cases had a significantly higher prevalence of a history of major illness, particularly thrombotic episodes, than the controls. The odds ratio (OR) of a fatal thromboembolism in women who had a history of venous thrombosis was 4.0 (95% Cl: 1.4-11.5). There was also a significantly higher frequency of a recent operation or accident amongst the cases than the controls (OR = 11.1, 95% Cl: 1.3-92.5). There was no significant excess or oral contraceptive use amongst the cases. The overall OR associated with current use of oral contraceptives was 1.6 (95% Cl: 0.7-3.4), while the corresponding OR for 'idiopathic' diseases was 2.1 (95% Cl: 0.8-5.2). These risks are considerably smaller than those observed in previous studies. The observed risk may be low because the dosage of oestrogen in modern oral contraceptive preparations has been reduced, but it may also be because the cases of fatal venous thromboembolism included in this study represent only a small proportion of all cases of venous thrombeombolism; a disease which is rarely fatal in young women. These results cannot necessarily be extrapolated to nonfatal venous thromboembolism.

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