Predictors of thrombosis in relatives of patients with venous thromboembolism
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Hereditary and acquired risk factors contribute to the development of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Relatives of patients who have a hereditary predisposition to thrombosis ('hereditary thrombophilia') will have a heightened risk of VTE if they share the same thrombophilic abnormality. However, if patients do not have a currently recognized thrombophilia it cannot be assumed that their relatives have a normal risk of thrombosis; the patient and their relatives may have a yet to be discovered hereditary abnormality. RECENT FINDINGS: A recent study by our group suggests that the relatives of patients with unprovoked VTE at a young age (e.g. <45 years) have a substantially higher risk [odds ratio (OR) 3.3; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7-6.4] of developing VTE than the relatives of older patients with unprovoked VTE (e.g. >71 years). This effect occurred independently of whether patients had a currently recognized hereditary thrombophilia. SUMMARY: Relatives of patients with unprovoked VTE have an increased risk of VTE. Testing for thrombophilia in the patients, and in the relatives of the patients who have a thrombophilia, allows the risk of thrombosis in the relatives to be estimated. Thrombosis at a young age appears to be an additional independent risk factor for a heightened risk of thrombosis in patients' relatives.
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