Prevention of venous thromboembolism in medically ill patients: a clinical update
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The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in hospitalised medically ill patients is often underestimated, despite the fact that it remains a major cause of preventable morbidity and mortality in this group. It is not well recognised that the risk of VTE in many hospitalised medically ill patients is at least as high as in populations after surgery. This may partly be attributed to the clinically silent nature of VTE in many patients, and the difficulty in predicting which patients might develop symptoms or fatal pulmonary embolism. Two large studies, Prospective Evaluation of Dalteparin Efficacy for Prevention of VTE in Immobilized Patients Trial and prophylaxis in MEDical patients with ENOXaparin, have shown that low-molecular-weight heparins provide effective thromboprophylaxis in medically ill patients, without increasing bleeding risk. Recent guidelines from the American College of Chest Physicians recommend that acutely medically ill patients admitted with congestive heart failure or severe respiratory disease, or those who are confined to bed and have at least one additional risk factor for VTE, should receive thromboprophylaxis.
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