J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Aug 17:e016784. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.016784. Online ahead of print.
Background Although historical trends before 1998 demonstrated improvements in mortality caused by pulmonary embolism (PE), contemporary estimates of mortality trends are unknown. Therefore, our objective is to describe trends in death rates caused by PE in the United States, overall and by sex-race, regional, and age subgroups. Methods and Results We used nationwide death certificate data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research to calculate age-adjusted mortality rates for PE as underlying cause of death from 1999 to 2018. We used the Joinpoint regression program to examine statistical trends and average annual percent change. Trends in PE mortality rates reversed after an inflection point in 2008, with an average annual percent change before 2008 of -4.4% (-5.7, -3.0, P<0.001), indicating reduction in age-adjusted mortality rates of 4.4% per year between 1999 and 2008, versus average annual percent change after 2008 of +0.6% (0.2, 0.9, P<0.001). Black men and women had approximately 2-fold higher age-adjusted mortality rates compared with White men and women, respectively, before and after the inflection point. Similar trends were seen in geographical regions. Age-adjusted mortality rates for younger adults (25-64 years) increased during the study period (average annual percent change 2.1% [1.6, 2.6]) and remained stable for older adults (>65 years). Conclusions Our study findings demonstrate that PE mortality has increased over the past decade and racial and geographic disparities persist. Identifying the underlying drivers of these changing mortality trends and persistently observed disparities is necessary to mitigate the burden of PE-related mortality, particularly premature preventable PE deaths among younger adults (<65 years).