Deaths from pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) are on the rise and may be linked to obesity, according to a letter to the editor in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.
Professor of Pathology at the University of Adelaide Roger Byard and his co-author said that while attention is often focused on complications of obesity such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension and cardiac disease, there is also a link to PTE.
Prof Byard and co-author reviewed and recorded the numbers of sudden deaths subject to coronial autopsies in South Australia from 2000 to 2009 where the cause of death was PTE.
Despite considerable yearly fluctuations, the death rate due to PTE showed a small increase over time, Prof Byard said, rising from 3.59 per cent of autopsies in 2000-2004 to 3.71 per cent in 2005-2009.
In 2008, the mean body mass index (BMI) for individuals dying of PTE (29.6 kg/m2) was significantly higher than for individuals in a control group who died of other causes (25.9 kg/m2).
“If PTE is conclusively found to be associated with BMI, there may be significant effects on hospital diagnostic services, coronial forensic investigation units and public expenditure in the future,” Prof Byard said.
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