Background: The optimal intensity of oral anticoagulation for the prevention of recurrent thrombosis in patients with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome is uncertain. Retrospective studies show that only high-intensity oral anticoagulation [target international normalized ratio (INR) >3.0] is effective but a recent randomized clinical trial comparing high (INR range 3.0-4.0) vs. moderate (INR 2.0-3.0) intensities of anticoagulation failed to confirm this assumption.
Methods: We conducted a randomized trial in which 109 patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and previous thrombosis were given either high-intensity warfarin (INR range 3.0-4.5, 54 patients) or standard antithrombotic therapy (warfarin, INR range 2.0-3.0 in 52 patients or aspirin alone, 100 mg day(-1) in three patients) to determine whether intensive anticoagulation is superior to standard treatment in preventing symptomatic thromboembolism without increasing the bleeding risk.
Results: The 109 patients enrolled in the trial were followed up for a median time of 3.6 years. Mean INR during follow-up was 3.2 (SD 0.6) in the high-intensity warfarin group and 2.5 (SD 0.3) (P < 0.0001) in the conventional treatment patients given warfarin. Recurrent thrombosis was observed in six of 54 patients (11.1%) assigned to receive high-intensity warfarin and in three of 55 patients (5.5%) assigned to receive conventional treatment [hazard ratio for the high intensity group, 1.97; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.49-7.89]. Major and minor bleeding occurred in 15 patients (two major) (27.8%) assigned to receive high-intensity warfarin and eight (three major) (14.6%) assigned to receive conventional treatment (hazard ratio 2.18; 95% CI 0.92-5.15).
Conclusions: High-intensity warfarin was not superior to standard treatment in preventing recurrent thrombosis in patients with APS and was associated with an increased rate of minor hemorrhagic complications.