D-dimer: a useful tool in gauging optimal duration of oral anticoagulant therapy?
AbstractBACKGROUND AND AIM OF THE STUDY Optimal duration of oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) in idiopathic venous thromboembolism (VTE) is unknown. Indefinite OAT carries an unacceptable risk of major bleeding and prospective studies have demonstrated that OAT is no longer protective after its withdrawal. How to identify the patients at risk for recurrence? D-dimer is a marker of thrombin activity. Early prospective studies showed that elevated D-dimer levels after anticoagulation had a highly predictive value for a recurrent episode. Does D-dimer assay have a role in gauging the appropriate duration of anticoagulant therapy? The PROLONG study tries to answer this question.
METHOD D-dimer assay was performed one month after stopping anticoagulation. Patiens with normal D-dimer levels did not resume anticoagulation while patients with elevated D-dimer levels were randomized to discontinue or resume anticoagulation. Study end-points was the composite of recurrent VTE and major bleeding during an average follow-up of 1.4 years.
RESULTS The rate of recurrence is significantly higher in patients with elevated D-dimer levels who discontinued anticoagulation. Resuming anticoagulation in this cohort of patients markedly reduces recurrent events without increasing major bleeding.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS PROLONG study is provocative, because D-dimer assay is simple, thus not requiring dedicated laboratory facilities. D-dimer test has otherwise high sensitivity but low specificity in VTE diagnosis. Aspecifically elevated D-dimer levels are available in the elderly and the majority of patients included in the study were > 65 years old, thus introducing a possible selection bias. Nonetheless the results of the study are useful for the clinician. Prolongation of vitamin K antagonists in patients with elevated D-dimer levels one month after discontinuation of OAT for a first unprovoked episode of VTE results in a favourable risk-benefit relationship. Probably this conclusion is even more appropriate for young patients.
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Copyright (c) 2013 M. Silingardi, A. Pizzini, I. Iori
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