Epidemiology of Familial Aggregation of Venous Thromboembolism

Bengt Zöller, Xinjun Li, Henrik Ohlsson, Jianguang Ji, Ashfaque A. Memon, Peter J. Svensson, Karolina Palmér, Björn Dahlbäck, Jan Sundquist, Kristina Sundquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Familial aggregation (clustering) of venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the clustering of VTE within a family. Though several genes, such as antithrombin, protein C, protein S, factor V, and prothrombin are associated with the familial clustering of VTE, these loci only partially explain the familial aggregation of VTE. The epidemiology of the familial aggregation of VTE exhibits typical characteristics of complex traits. The family history of VTE in first-degree relatives is associated with a two to three times increased familial relative risk (FRR). The FRR of VTE is higher in younger individuals, increases with a number of affected relatives, decreases as the familial relationship becomes more distant, increases with severity (unprovoked), and exhibits slightly stronger male transmission (Carter effect). High FRR is observed in individuals with two or more affected siblings (FRR > 50). Because familial aggregation represents the sum of shared family environmental and genetic factors, one should not assume that evidence of familial aggregation implies genetic effects. However, studies in twins, extended families, adoptees, and spouses indicate a weak involvement of shared environmental factors to the familial aggregation of VTE. Moreover, familial aggregation of VTE fulfills the Hill's criteria for causation. In conclusion, familial aggregation of VTE signals a clinically relevant inherent predisposition for VTE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-832
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • epidemiology
  • genetics
  • thrombophilia
  • venous thromboembolism
  • venous thrombosis


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