• Vol. 38 No. 6, 470–477
  • 15 June 2009

Venous Thromboembolism at the National Healthcare Group, Singapore



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Introduction: Venous thromboembolism (VTE), including its most serious clinical subtype, pulmonary embolism (PE), is a potentially preventable disease. While current assessment tools do not include ethnicity as a risk factor, studies suggest that Asians have lower risk of VTE compared to Caucasians. This study aims to describe 2006 in-hospital and projected populationbased incidence rates of VTE and PE in Singapore. Materials and Methods: Data on 2006 admissions at 3 major NHG hospitals, cases of VTE and their demographics were obtained from the ODS, a large administrative database of the National Healthcare Group (NHG). Demographic characteristics of the 2006 Singapore resident population were obtained from the 2006 Singapore Statistics website. Results: In 2006, there were 860 cases of VTE out of 98,121 admissions in these 3 hospitals. Overall and secondary VTE age adjusted in-hospital burden was 73 and 54 per 10,000 patients, respectively. Caucasians and Eurasians had VTE rates in excess of 100 per 10,000 while Chinese, Malays and Indians each had rates below 100 per 10,000. Assuming that 42.5% of the 2006 Singapore population was served by NHG, the estimated population-based incidence of VTE and PE is 57 and 15 per 100,000, respectively. Conclusions: As patterns across ethnic groups point to lower VTE rates among Asians compared to Caucasians and Eurasians, analytic studies should be considered to test this hypothesis. There may be a need to develop locally applicable risk assessment tools which can be used to support local guidelines for VTE prophylaxis, thus leading to more acceptable and cost-effective care.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a potentially fatal disease which includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). About 30% of patients with VTE die within 30 days while 20% suffer sudden death from pulmonary embolism.1 Risk factors commonly seen in hospitalised patients, include immobilization, acute medical illness and increasing age. Despite its serious nature, VTE is potentially preventable particularly in a hospital setting. The availability of prophylactic measures has prompted health professionals to develop protocols which effectively risk-stratify hospitalised patients. While VTE control measures have been aggressively implemented in the West, the condition has attracted much less attention in Asian countries given the apparent lower risk.

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