Patient Care

Updated CHEST Guidelines for Antithrombotic Therapy of VTE


Clinical question: What are the current recommendations for antithrombotic therapy in various venous thromboembolism (VTE) scenarios?

Background: VTE is commonly encountered with a multitude of therapeutic options. Selecting the optimal anticoagulant is as important as making the diagnosis and requires knowledge of individual patient characteristics to initiate the correct therapy. These factors include malignancy, location of thrombus, and history of recurrent VTE despite anticoagulation.

Study design: Guideline.

Setting: Expert panel.

Synopsis: For VTE patients without cancer, non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants (NOAC) are now suggested over vitamin K antagonists (Grade 2B). However, there remains no strong evidence to favor one NOAC over another.

Better evidence now supports the prior recommendation to discourage IVC filters for VTE that is being treated with anticoagulation (Grade 1B).

In pulmonary embolism of the subsegmental type without proximal DVT, clinical surveillance is favored over anticoagulation in lower-risk patients (Grade 2C).

Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) is advised in recurrent VTE treated with non-LMWH, and for recurrences on LMWH, a dose increase of LMWH is advised (Grade 2C).

Finally, routine use of compression stockings for post-thrombotic syndrome prevention is not routinely recommended (Grade 2B).

Limitations include only 20 of the 54 total recommendations being of strong Grade 1 criteria. Additionally, none of the 54 statements are drawn from high-quality evidence.

Further study is needed to continually update our practice in caring for VTE disease as more experience and comparison data are obtained with the use of NOAC drugs.

Bottom line: Anticoagulant therapy recommendations have been updated, but few are strong recommendations and none are based on high-quality evidence.

Citation: Kearon C, Akl EA, Ornelas J, et al. Antithrombotic therapy for VTE disease: CHEST guideline and expert panel report. Chest. 2016;149(2):315-352.

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