Is pulmonary embolism (PE) more common in men or women?

Updated: Sep 18, 2020
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Data are conflicting as to whether male sex is a risk factor for pulmonary embolism; however, an analysis of national mortality data found that death rates from pulmonary embolism were 20-30% higher among men than among women. [20] The incidence of venous thromboembolic events in the older population is greater among men than women. In patients younger than 55 years, the incidence of pulmonary is higher in females. The overall age- and sex-adjusted annual incidence of venous thromboembolism is reported to be 117 cases per 100,000 people (DVT, 48 cases per 100,000; pulmonary embolism, 69 cases per 100,000). [23]

A prospective cohort study of female nurses found an association between idiopathic pulmonary embolism and hours spent sitting each week. Women who reported in both 1988 and 1990 that they sat more than 40 hours per week had more than twice the risk of pulmonary embolism compared with women who reported both years that they sat less than 10hours per week. [28]

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