The Relationship Between Exercise and Risk of Venous Thrombosis in Elderly People

Karlijn J. van Stralen, Catharina Jacoba Maria Doggen, Thomas Lumley, Mary Cushman, Aaron R. Folsom, Bruce M. Psaty, David Siscovick, Frits R. Rosendaal, Susan R. Heckbert

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OBJECTIVES: To study whether exercise is associated with the risk of venous thrombosis in elderly people. DESIGN: Observational study with a median follow-up of 11.6 years. SETTING: The Cardiovascular Health Study in four U.S. communities. PARTICIPANTS: People aged 65 and older without prior venous thrombosis (deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism). MEASUREMENTS: Self-reported exercise was measured two or three times during follow-up and was defined as expending more than 500 kcal/wk on exercise, including walking for exercise. Venous thrombosis cases were verified using medical record review. RESULTS: Of 5,534 participants, 171 developed a first venous thrombosis. Self-reported exercise at baseline was not related to the risk of venous thrombosis after adjustment for sex, age, race, self-reported health, and body mass index (adjusted hazard ratio (HRadj)=1.16, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.84–1.61), although with exercise modeled as a time-varying exposure, overall results were in the direction of greater risk of venous thrombosis (HRadj=1.38, 95% CI=0.99–1.91). For mild-intensity exercise, such as walking, there was a nonsignificant finding in the direction of benefit (HRadj=0.75, 95% CI=0.49–1.16), but strenuous exercise, such as jogging, was associated with greater risk of venous thrombosis (HRadj=1.75, 95% CI=1.08–2.83) than no exercise at all. CONCLUSION: In elderly people, strenuous exercise was associated with a higher risk of venous thrombosis than no exercise at all. Future studies are needed to explain this unexpected higher risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-522
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • IR-76900


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