Sarcoidosis Patients Face Higher Risk of Venous Thromboembolism, Minnesota Study Finds

Janet Stewart, MSc avatar

by Janet Stewart, MSc |

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VTE risk

Sarcoidosis patients have three times the risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) than individuals without the disease, a new report finds.

The report, “Association of Sarcoidosis With Increased Risk of VTE: A Population-Based Study, 1976 to 2013,” appeared in the journal Chest.

VTE includes two conditions: deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Deep venous thrombosis is the formation of a thrombus, or blood clot, within a deep vein, usually in the legs. Signs of the condition include pain, swelling, redness, warmth and engorged superficial veins.

Pulmonary embolism is a potentially life-threatening complication of deep venous thrombosis, in which the clot detaches and travels to the lungs. VTE is a common medical condition usually exacerbated by immobilization, hospitalization, surgery, malignancy, aging and the use of certain medications.

Only recently have researchers turned their attention to inflammation, such as that seen in autoimmune disorders, as a possible trigger for VTE.

Researchers in Minnesota’s Olmsted County — which is predominantly of Northern European ancestry — reviewed the medical records of 345 cases of sarcoidosis and 345 matched controls for deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism that occurred between 1976 and 2003.

Those without sarcoidosis were of similar age and the same sex as patients diagnosed with the disease. The two groups were similar, except for the fact that the sarcoidosis group contained more non-white individuals and current smokers than the control group.

The risk of developing VTE was found to be 3.04 times higher in patients with sarcoidosis than in control subjects. In addition, sarcoidosis patients were 3.14 times more likely to experience deep venous thrombosis and 4.29 times more likely to have a pulmonary embolism.

“Elevated risk of VTE has been observed in several autoimmune disorders,” said the research team. “A recent record-linkage study from United Kingdom has demonstrated a significantly increased risk of VTE in all 23 studied autoimmune disorder with the relative risk ranged from 1.30 to 3.83. The 3-fold increased risk of VTE in this study falls within this range.”

The researchers emphasized that more studies are required to determine how this VTE risk should be addressed in clinical practice.