Objective: Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is characterized by low platelet counts and a tendency toward increased bleeding and bruising. We aimed to describe bleeding frequency and use of rescue ITP therapy to treat or prevent bleeding in elderly ITP patients in a real-world setting.
Methods: Using Medicare 20% sample data, 2007-2012, we identified elderly (ages ≥67 years) Medicare fee-for-service enrollees diagnosed with primary ITP between 1 January 2009 and 30 September 2012. Bleeding-related episodes (BREs) were defined as ≥1 bleeding event or use of ITP therapies commonly considered for rescue or emergency therapy. BRE rates were examined for the cohort overall, by time since ITP onset, and by splenectomy status. Patients were followed from ITP onset until the earliest of death, disenrollment from fee-for-service coverage, or 31 December 2012.
Results: We identified 3007 elderly patients diagnosed with primary ITP (mean [SD] age: 79.6 [7.5] years; 55% female); 2178 (72%) experienced at least one BRE (8867 BREs); 92 (3%) underwent splenectomy. Nearly half of BREs were defined by rescue therapy use alone. The overall rate was 1.72 BREs per patient-year (95% CI; 1.68-1.75); rates were higher during the first 3 months after ITP onset and after splenectomy.
Conclusion: Elderly ITP patients experienced about two BREs per patient-year after ITP onset. Most patients experienced at least one BRE. These real-world results demonstrate the importance of examining both bleeding and use of rescue or emergency ITP therapy in the assessment of disease burden in elderly patients with ITP.
Keywords: Bleeding-related episodes; Medicare; immune thrombocytopenia.