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International Angiology 2004 December;23(4):305-16

Copyright © 2004 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Outpatient treatment of venous thromboembolism using low molecular weight heparins. An overview

Matsagas M. I.

Vascular Surgery Unit, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece


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The development of low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs) was a significant advance in the treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Their better bioavailability and more predictable anticoagulant activity than unfractionated heparin (UFH) allow subcutaneous administration without close laboratory monitoring, and thus make outpatient treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) feasible. The safety and efficacy of outpatient treatment in selected patients were established in randomized clinical trials comparing subcutaneous LMWH administered primarily at home with inpatient intravenous UFH. Furthermore, during the last few years a large number of studies have supported these findings in various clinical settings of every-day practice. It is also important that home treatment has lead to substantial cost reductions along with improvement in patients’ satisfaction and quality of life. Thus, outpatient treatment of DVT provides an opportunity, rarely seen in medicine, to improve patient care while reducing the overall VTE health-care cost, and it is likely that will be the preferred regime for the majority of patients in the future. However, the implementation of a home treatment program is not simple, as the risks of insufficient or excessive anticoagulation would be considerable. A structured protocol is necessary to ensure that patient care is optimal, and the keys to a successful outpatient treatment program are patient selection, patient education, patient access to health care team, appropriate follow-up and health care team communication.

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