Short-term prognosis of breakthrough venous thromboembolism in anticoagulated patients

J. van Es*, Y. W. Cheung, N. van Es, F. A. Klok, C. E. A. Dronkers, M. ten Wolde, M. J. H. A. Kruip, M. V. Huisman, K. Meijer, P. W. Kamphuisen, V. E. A. Gerdes, S. Middeldorp

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Evidence for guideline recommendations for the treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) during anticoagulant therapy is scarce. We aimed to observe and to describe the management of VTE occurring during anticoagulant therapy.

Methods: This prospective multi-center, observational study included patients with objectively confirmed VTE during anticoagulant therapy (breakthrough event), with a follow-up of 3 months, after the breakthrough event.

Results: We registered 121 patients with a breakthrough event, with a mean age of 56 years (range, 19 to 90); 61 were male (50%). Fifty-eight patients (48%) had an active malignancy. At the time of the breakthrough event, 57 patients (47%) were treated with a vitamin K antagonist (VKA), 53 patients (44%) with low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and 11 patients (9%) with direct oral anticoagulants, unfractionated heparin, or VKA plus LMWH. A total of 21 patients (17%) were receiving a subtherapeutic dose of an anticoagulant. The main regimens to treat recurrence in patients on VKA were: switch to LMWH (33%), temporary double treatment with LMWH and VKA (23%), and VKA with a higher target INR (19%). In patients with a breakthrough on LMWH, the most frequently chosen regimen was a permanent dose increase (74%). During 3-month follow-up, 7% of patients had a second breakthrough event and 8% experienced major or clinically relevant non-major bleeding.

Conclusion: There is wide variation in the management of VTE during anticoagulant treatment, reflecting a heterogeneous and complex clinical situation. Despite intensifying anticoagulation, the risk of a second breakthrough event in this population is 7%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalThrombosis Research
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2020


  • Venous thrombo-embolism
  • Anticoagulation
  • Malignancy
  • Breakthrough thrombotic events
  • RISK

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