Low Dose Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin for Thrombosis Prophylaxis: Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis

Ruben J. Eck*, Wouter Bult, Jorn Wetterslev, Reinold O. B. Gans, Karina Meijer, Iwan C. C. van Der Horst, Frederik Keus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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International guidelines recommend low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) as first-line pharmacological option for the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in many patient categories. Guidance on the optimal prophylactic dose is lacking. We conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis (TSA) of randomized controlled trials to assess benefits and harms of low-dose LMWH versus placebo or no treatment for thrombosis prophylaxis in patients at risk of VTE. PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and Embase were searched up to June 2019. Results were presented as relative risk (RR) with conventional and TSA-adjusted confidence intervals (CI). Forty-four trials with a total of 22,579 participants were included. Six (14%) had overall low risk of bias. Low-dose LMWH was not statistically significantly associated with all-cause mortality (RR 0.99; 95%CI 0.85-1.14; TSA-adjusted CI 0.89-1.16) but did reduce symptomatic VTE (RR 0.62; 95%CI 0.48-0.81; TSA-adjusted CI 0.44-0.89) and any VTE (RR 0.61; 95%CI 0.50-0.75; TSA-adjusted CI 0.49-0.82). Analyses on major bleeding (RR 1.07; 95%CI 0.72-1.59), as well as serious adverse events (SAE) and clinically relevant non-major bleeding were inconclusive. There was very low to moderate-quality evidence that low-dose LMWH for thrombosis prophylaxis did not decrease all-cause mortality but reduced the incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic VTE, while the analysis of the effects on bleeding and adverse events remained inconclusive.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2039
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2019


  • low-molecular-weight heparin
  • venous thromboembolism
  • meta-analysis
  • RISK

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