Clinical question: Are there differences in efficacy and safety between the treatment strategies for acute venous thromboembolism (VTE)?
Background: There are a number of treatment strategies available for acute VTE. Prior to this study, no large meta-analysis review of strategies had been conducted to compare efficacy and safety.
Study design: Systematic literature review and meta-analysis.
Setting: Patients with confirmed symptomatic acute VTE or confirmed symptomatic recurrent VTE in the inpatient or ambulatory setting
Synopsis: The review identified 45 relevant studies with a total of 44,989 patients. The resultant analysis showed that there were no statistically significant differences for efficacy and safety among most treatment strategies used to treat acute VTE when compared with the low molecular weight heparin-vitamin K antagonist combination. Specifically, no differences were found between effectiveness and bleeding risk. However, the analysis did suggest that the unfractionated heparin-vitamin K antagonist combination was the least effective and resulted in higher rates of recurrent VTE. Additionally, the use of rivaroxaban or apixaban was associated with the lowest risk of bleeding.
Hospitalists treating patients with acute VTE need to use caution when attempting to translate these results into practice. This study did not address comorbidities present in patients with VTE that might limit certain treatment strategies. Also, no studies directly compare the new direct oral anticoagulants, so their use requires thoughtful consideration.
Bottom line: There is no significant difference in efficacy and safety between the strategies used to treat acute VTE.
Citation: Castellucci LA, Cameron C, Le Gal G, et al. Clinical and safety outcomes associated with treatment of acute venous thromboembolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2014;312(11):1122-1135.