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J Thromb Haemost. 2007 Jul;5 Suppl 1:270-5.

Venous thromboembolism and atherosclerosis: is there a link?

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Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Thromboembolism Unit, University Hospital of Padua, Padua, Italy.


After the initial demonstration provided 4 years ago by a case-control study in the New England Journal of Medicine, numerous investigations have addressed the association between venous and arterial thrombotic disorders. According to the results of recent studies, the two conditions are likely to share common risk factors, including age, obesity, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension, hyperlipemia and metabolic syndrome. The nature of this association is unclear. On the one hand, atherosclerosis has the potential to promote the development of thrombotic disorders in the venous system. On the other hand, the two clinical conditions can be simultaneously triggered by biological stimuli responsible for activating coagulation and inflammatory pathways in both the arterial and the venous system. Based on the results of two population-based studies carried out in the USA, atherosclerosis is unlikely to constitute a risk factor for venous thromboembolic (VTE) disorders. Several recent studies have consistently shown that subjects with VTE of unknown origin are at a higher risk of subsequent arterial cardiovascular events than subjects with secondary VTE and matched control individuals. In conclusion, the separate nature of arterial and venous disorders has been challenged. Future studies are needed to clarify the nature of this association, to assess its extent, and to evaluate its implications for clinical practice.

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