Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) can occur in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and pulmonary embolism causes death in a minority of cases. The benefits of preventing VTE must be weighed against the risks. An accurate estimate of the incidence of VTE in ALS is crucial to assessing this balance. METHODS: This retrospective record-linkage cohort study derived data from the Hospital Episode Statistics database, covering admissions to England's hospitals from 1 April 2003 to 31 December 2019 and included 21 163 patients with ALS and 17 425 337 controls. Follow-up began at index admission and ended at VTE admission, death or 2 years (whichever came sooner). Adjusted HRs (aHRs) for VTE were calculated, controlling for confounders. RESULTS: The incidence of VTE in the ALS cohort was 18.8/1000 person-years. The relative risk of VTE in ALS was significantly greater than in controls (aHR 2.7, 95% CI 2.4 to 3.0). The relative risk of VTE in patients with ALS under 65 years was five times higher than controls (aHR 5.34, 95% CI 4.6 to 6.2), and higher than that of patients over 65 years compared with controls (aHR 1.86, 95% CI 1.62 to 2.12). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with ALS are at a higher risk of developing VTE, but this is similar in magnitude to that reported in other chronic neurological conditions associated with immobility, such as multiple sclerosis, which do not routinely receive VTE prophylaxis. Those with ALS below the median age of symptom onset have a notably higher relative risk. A reappraisal of the case for routine antithrombotic therapy in those diagnosed with ALS now requires a randomised controlled trial.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Publication Date