Among patients taking anticoagulants after venous thromboembolism, mortality due to ischemic events is twice that due to recurrent pulmonary embolism, according to a report published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders. “In clinical practice in patients with VTE, most of the physician’s attention is often focused on the resolution of VTE signs and symptoms, whereas less attention is paid to the prevention of ischemic events,” said Dr. Olga Madridano of Hospital Universitario Infanta Sofia, Madrid, and her associates.
These study findings show that when prescribing anticoagulation for these patients, it is crucial to identify those who may also require concomitant antiplatelet therapy to prevent ischemic events, the investigators noted.
Dr. Madridano and her colleagues analyzed data from an international registry of VTE cases to determine how often major ischemic events – stroke, MI, limb amputation, or mesenteric ischemia – occur during anticoagulant therapy. They assessed the case reports of 23,370 consecutive patients in 10 European countries, Canada, and Ecuador who were enrolled in the registry during a 5-year period.
During a mean of 9.2 months of anticoagulation treatment, 597 patients developed recurrent VTE: 267 had pulmonary embolism and 330 had deep vein thrombosis. A total of 162 developed major ischemic events: 86 had stroke, 53 had MI, 13 required limb amputation, and 11 had mesenteric ischemia. There were 21 deaths from PE recurrences and 53 from ischemic events.
Thus, the number of PE recurrences was greater than that of ischemic events, but the mortality from PE recurrences was only half that from ischemic events. “We hypothesize that some patients who subsequently died of MI or stroke might have benefited from concomitant therapy with antiplatelets,” Dr. Madridano and her associates said (J. Vasc. Surg.: Venous Lymph. Dis. 2015;3:135-41). However, it is important to note that mortality due to bleeding complications (83 deaths) was even higher than mortality due to PE recurrence and ischemic events put together (74 deaths). Earlier discontinuation of anticoagulant therapy might have reduced the rate of major bleeding, they added.
The VTE registry is supported by an unrestricted grant from Sanofi Spain and by Bayer Pharma AG. Dr. Madridano and her associates reported having no financial disclosures.