D-dimer levels and recurrence in patients with unprovoked VTE and a negative qualitative D-dimer test after treatment
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BACKGROUND: The rate of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with a first unprovoked VTE who had a negative qualitative D-dimer test one month after stopping anticoagulant therapy was higher than expected in the D-dimer Optimal Duration Study (DODS). OBJECTIVES: To determine whether quantitative D-dimer levels using a low threshold, age- and sex-specific thresholds, or repeated measurements, would improve identification of patients at low risk of recurrent VTE. MATERIALS AND METHODS: D-dimer levels were quantified in banked samples from 307 patients in DODS who had a negative qualitative D-dimer test while on, and 1month after stopping, anticoagulant therapy and the rates of recurrent VTE were determined in patients with D-dimer levels below various predefined thresholds. RESULTS: The rate (per patient year) of recurrent VTE was: 5.9% with D-dimer levels<250μg/l at one month; 5.2% with D-dimer levels between 250 and 499μg/l at one month; 5.0% with D-dimer levels less than predefined age- and sex-specific thresholds at one month; and 6.3% when D-dimer levels were <500μg/l at both one and 7months after stopping anticoagulant therapy. These rates are similar to the overall event rate of 6.3% in patients who stopped treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Among unprovoked VTE patients who had a negative qualitative D-dimer test during and after anticoagulant therapy, low D-dimer thresholds, age and sex-adjusted thresholds or repeated measurements, did not identify subgroups with a very low rate of recurrence.
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