A systematic review of secondary thromboprophylaxis in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies

Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Dec 15;57(8):1487-95. doi: 10.1002/art.23109.


Objective: To systematically review the efficacy and safety data of different therapeutic approaches in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) and thrombosis.

Methods: The Medline database and references from selected reports and review articles were used. Randomized controlled trials, prospective and retrospective cohort studies, and subgroup analysis (n > 15) that focused on the secondary thromboprophylaxis in patients with aPL were selected.

Results: Sixteen studies were selected. Patients with venous events and a single test for aPL showed a low recurrence rate while receiving oral anticoagulation at a target international normalized ratio (INR) of 2.0-3.0. Patients with stroke and a single positive aPL test had no increased risk compared with those without aPL. Recurrence rates in patients with definite antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and previous venous thromboembolism were lower than in patients with arterial and/or recurrent events, both with and without therapy. Only 3.8% of recurrent events occurred at an actual INR >3.0. Mortality due to recurrent thrombosis was higher than mortality due to bleeding (18 patients versus 1 patient reported).

Conclusion: For patients with definite APS, we recommend prolonged warfarin therapy at a target INR of 2.0-3.0 in APS patients with first venous events and >3.0 for those with recurrent and/or arterial events. For patients with venous thromboembolism or stroke and a single positive aPL test, we recommend further testing to determine if they have a persisting antibody. If they do not, the same therapy as for the general population should be used (warfarin at a target INR of 2.0-3.0 and low-dose aspirin, respectively).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / blood
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / blood
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / complications*
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • International Normalized Ratio
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Thrombosis / etiology*
  • Thrombosis / prevention & control*
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Anticoagulants
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Warfarin
  • Aspirin