Unmet clinical needs in the management of venous thromboembolism in at-risk patients

Review suggests inconsistency of recommendations and paucity of precise risk assessment tools and biomarkers.


  • Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) is the anticoagulant of choice in pregnant women and obese patients for venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis; however, LMWH dose adjustment is a significant problem in these patients.
  • In elderly, LMWH showed a better safety and efficacy profile than unfractionated heparin (UFH) for thromboprophylaxis; however, the benefit of VTE prophylaxis needs to be evaluated against the bleeding risk.
  • In high-risk patients, guideline recommendations are inconsistent and physician’s views are heterogeneous on VTE prophylaxis.
  • This review highlights the need for the development of user-friendly, population-adapted VTE risk assessment tools and clinically valuable biomarkers.


  • In this study, a gap analysis was performed to highlight unmet needs in VTE management and discover the high-risk patients.
  • 44 key opinion leaders from 12 different countries or regions were interviewed with a pre-determined questionnaire.
  • A comprehensive literature search was conducted on VTE in the specific patient groups (pregnant women, elderly and obese patients) during 2015-2017.
  • Findings from the qualitative and quantitative research were discussed in a Thrombosis Think Tank meeting in 2018.
  • Funding: Editorial assistance was supported by Sanofi.


  • Management of VTE during pregnancy and post-partum:
    • LMWH is the preferred anticoagulant for prophylaxis and treatment of VTE during pregnancy, but there is an inconsistency in the ideal LMWH dose.
    • Experts agreed that anti-Xa monitoring for LMWH dosing in pregnant women at very high risk is widely used and likely beneficial.
    • Effects of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) on the foetus or the newborn child are currently unknown.
    • A history of VTE or heritable thrombophilia is an established risk factor of VTE during pregnancy.
    • Predictive utility of all conventional and candidate VTE biomarkers is unclear during pregnancy and puerperium.
    • Guidelines and opinions differ on risk stratification, duration of prophylaxis and the safety of DOACs during pregnancy.
    • Development of more precise risk assessment tools and biomarkers is needed.
  • Management of VTE in elderly:
    • LMWH showed a better safety and efficacy profile over UFH for thromboprophylaxis in elderly.
    • Although DOACs are considered convenient in elderly patients outside the hospital setting, safety remains unclear.
    • The experts agreed on careful benefit-risk assessments during thromboprophylaxis.
    • Drug compliance, bleeding risks and co-morbidities should be considered while prescribing thromboprophylaxis.
    • The experts noted disparities in risk assessment guidance and thromboprophylaxis practice across countries.
  • Management of VTE in obese patients:
    • The interviewed physicians prefer LMWHs over DOACs for thromboprophylaxis in obese patients.
    • The efficacy and safety of DOACs have not been adequately investigated for thromboprophylaxis.
    • Clinical practice guidelines highlight the need for the development of dosing regimens.
    • However, it is uncertain whether dose adjustment should be based on weight, body mass index or a fixed-dose regimen.
    • Majority of experts agree on LMWH dose adjustment based on patient’s weight

    Brenner B, Arya R, Beyer-Westendorf J, Douketis J, Hull R, Elalamy I, Imberti D, Zhai Z. Evaluation of unmet clinical needs in prophylaxis and treatment of venous thromboembolism in at-risk patient groups: pregnancy, elderly and obese patients. Thromb J. 2019;17:24. doi: 10.1186/s12959-019-0214-8. PMID: 31889915

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MAT-GR-2100832/v.1/January 2022