Management of venous thrombo-embolism: an update

Eur Heart J. 2014 Nov 1;35(41):2855-63. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehu243. Epub 2014 Sep 1.


Venous thrombo-embolism is the third most frequent acute cardiovascular syndrome after myocardial infarction and stroke. Recently published landmark trials paved the way for significant progress in the management of the disease and provided the evidence for the ESC Pulmonary Embolism (PE) Guidelines 2014 update. Risk stratification strategies for non-high-risk PE continue to evolve, with an increasing emphasis on clinical prediction rules and right ventricular (RV) assessment on computed tomographic pulmonary angiography. In the field of anticoagulation treatment, pharmacogenetic testing for vitamin K antagonists on top of clinical parameters was not found to offer a significant benefit during the initiation phase; on the other hand, dosing based on the patient's clinical data seems superior to fixed loading regimens. The phase 3 trial programme of new oral anticoagulants in the treatment of venous thrombo-embolism has been completed, and the results indicate that these agents are at least as effective and probably cause less major bleeding than currently standard treatment. A multicentre prospective phase 4 trial will determine whether early discharge and out-of-hospital treatment of low-risk PE with the oral factor Xa inhibitor rivaroxaban is feasible, effective, and safe. For intermediate-risk PE defined on the basis of imaging tests and laboratory biomarkers, the bleeding risks of full-dose thrombolytic treatment appear too high to justify its use, unless clinical signs of haemodynamic decompensation appear. Patients in whom PE has resulted in chronic thrombo-embolic pulmonary hypertension and who are not suitable for pulmonary endarterectomy, may be expected to benefit from emerging pharmaceutical and interventional treatment options.

Keywords: Anticoagulants; Chronic thrombo-embolic pulmonary hypertension; Management; Prognosis; Pulmonary embolism; Risk assessment; Thrombolysis; Venous thrombo-embolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Algorithms
  • Ambulatory Care / methods
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care / methods
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / therapy
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods
  • Venous Thromboembolism / diagnosis
  • Venous Thromboembolism / therapy*
  • Vitamin K / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Anticoagulants
  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin K