Relation between quality of anticoagulant treatment and the development of the postthrombotic syndrome


Carlo J. J. van Dongen, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Room J2-204, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tel.: +31 20 566 8975; fax: +31 20 691 2683; e-mail:


Summary. Background: About 30% of patients with an episode of adequately treated deep venous thrombosis (DVT) develop the postthrombotic syndrome (PTS) within 2 years. During treatment with vitamin K antagonists (VKA) patients spend only 60% of time between an International Normalized Ratio (INR) of 2.0 and 3.0. We hypothesized that patients who spend a large amount of their time beneath this range will have an increased risk of the PTS. Objective: To investigate the relation between the quality of anticoagulant therapy with VKA and the risk of the development of the PTS. Methods: The time spent beneath the therapeutic range was calculated for patients with a first episode of DVT, who were treated with VKA for at least 3 months. At follow-up assessments for a maximum of 5 years, presence and severity of signs and symptoms of PTS were recorded. Results: A total of 244 patients, with a median duration of follow-up of 4.9 years were included for analysis. Of these, 81 patients (33%) developed the PTS. The multivariate model showed that patients who spend more than 50% of their time beneath an INR level of 2.0 are at higher risk for PTS [odds ratio (OR): 2.71, 95% CI: 1.44–5.10]. Conclusions: Low quality treatment with VKA, which is a common condition, is related to the occurrence of the PTS in patients with DVT. Strategies aimed at improving the quality of long-term anticoagulation might have the potential to reduce the incidence of this complication.