Prophylaxis with low-dose low-molecular-weight heparin during pregnancy and postpartum: is it effective?


Jeanine Roeters van Lennep, Erasmus Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine-D425, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Tel.: +31 10 70 95 193; fax: +31 10 70 33 639.


Summary. Background: The optimal approach for venous thrombosis (VTE) prophylaxis during pregnancy and postpartum in women with an increased risk of VTE is not established. Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness, represented as the incidence of pregnancy-related VTE, and safety, represented as incidence of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), of a protocol recommending prophylaxis with low-dose low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) in women at intermediate to high risk of VTE. Patients/methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we analyzed 34 women (44 pregnancies) with intermediate risk of VTE who received low-dose LMWH for 6 weeks postpartum and 57 women (82 pregnancies) with high risk of VTE who received low-dose LMWH during pregnancy and for 6 weeks postpartum. Pregnancy-related VTE was defined as VTE during pregnancy or ≤ 3 months postpartum. PPH was defined as blood loss > 500 mL and severe PPH as blood loss > 1000 mL. Results: The incidence of pregnancy-related VTE was 5.5% (95% CI, 2.4–12.3) despite prophylaxis with low-dose LMWH. All events occurred in women at high risk, with a postpartum incidence of 7.0% (95% CI, 2.9–16.7) and antepartum incidence of 1.8% (95% CI, 0.4–9.2). The risk of PPH was 21.6% (95% CI, 14.3–31.3) and severe PPH 9.1% (95% CI, 4.7–16.9), which was not different in women who started LMWH postpartum and those who used LMWH during pregnancy. Conclusions: Although prophylaxis with low-dose LMWH during pregnancy and postpartum proved to be safe, the risk of pregnancy-related VTE is considerable in women with a high risk of VTE. VTE prophylaxis with low-dose LMWH may not be sufficiently effective in these women.