Clinical trials have shown low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) to be at least as safe and efficacious as unfractionated heparin (UFH) for preventing venous thromboembolism (VTE) in acutely-ill medical inpatients.
To compare clinical and economic outcomes among acutely-ill medical inpatients receiving the LMWH enoxaparin versus UFH prophylaxis in clinical practice.
Using a large, multi-hospital, US database, we identified persons aged ≥40 years hospitalized for ≥6 days for an acute medical condition (including circulatory disorders, respiratory disorders, infectious diseases, or neoplasms) from Q4 1999 to Q1 2002. From these patients, those who received thromboprophylaxis with either enoxaparin or UFH were identified. Surgical patients and those requiring or ineligible for anticoagulation were excluded. We compared the incidence of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), and all VTE (i.e., DVT and/or PE). Secondary outcomes were occurrence of side-effects, length of hospital stay and total costs. RESULTS: 479 patients received enoxaparin prophylaxis and 2,837 received UFH. The incidence of VTE was 1.7% with enoxaparin prophylaxis versus 6.3% with UFH (RR = 0.26; p < 0.001). Occurrence of side effects, length of stay (10.00 days with enoxaparin vs. 10.26 days with UFH; p = 0.348) and total costs ($18,777 vs. $17,602; p = 0.463) were similar in the 2 groups.
We observed a 74% lower risk of VTE among patients receiving enoxaparin prophylaxis versus UFH prophylaxis. There was no significant difference in side effects or economic outcomes. These results provide evidence that the LMWH enoxaparin is more effective than UFH in reducing the risk of VTE in current clinical practice.