Venous thromboembolism: Predicting recurrence and the need for extended anticoagulation

Vasc Med. 2015 Apr;20(2):143-52. doi: 10.1177/1358863X14566429.


Initial treatment for venous thromboembolism (VTE) includes the acute and intermediate phases, usually lasting for 3 months. The choice to extend therapy beyond the initial 3-month window involves assessing a combination of risk factors for VTE recurrence and bleeding, along with weighing patient preferences. In some cases, such as VTE provoked by a reversible surgical risk factor, the recurrence risk is sufficiently low that most patients should not receive extended therapy. In other cases, such as VTE associated with malignancy, the recurrence risk is sufficiently high that treatment should be extended beyond the initial 3 months. However, a large number of patients fall into a grey zone where the decision on extended therapy is less clear-cut. In this review, we summarize the evidence for VTE recurrence risk and the role for extended anticoagulation given a variety of patient-specific factors and laboratory results. We also review the role of VTE risk prediction tools and provide a recommended algorithm for approaching the decision of extended anticoagulation therapy. Various agents available for extended VTE therapy, including warfarin, aspirin and the direct oral anticoagulant agents, are discussed.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; venous thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Venous Thromboembolism / diagnosis*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / drug therapy*
  • Warfarin / administration & dosage
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin