Pathophysiology and pharmacologic treatment of venous thromboembolism

Curr Drug Targets. 2014 Feb;15(2):199-209. doi: 10.2174/13894501113146660226.


Venous thrombosis is a common medical disorder affecting nearly one million Americans each year. This review will focus primarily on the formation of venous thrombosis as well as current and future treatment options. While the full pathophysiology of venous thrombosis is not known, recent evidence points to a role for von Willebrand Factor, platelets, and neutrophils in thrombus formation. Many laboratory and imaging tests may be used for the diagnosis of venous thrombosis (VTE), but risk factor identification and clinical examination should not be overlooked as they are vital in assuring accurate treatment and patient identification. Historically heparin followed by a vitamin K antagonist has been the standard of care for treatment of VTE, but increasing data involving factor Xa inhibitors and direct thrombin inhibitors may mean a shift in first-line therapy in the very near future. Invasive therapies such as catheter-directed thrombolysis have also shown promise in the treatment of venous thrombosis and will likely see increased use in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Antithrombins / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors*
  • Heparin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Venous Thromboembolism / drug therapy*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / physiopathology*
  • Vitamin K / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Antithrombins
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors
  • Vitamin K
  • Heparin