Strategies for the prevention of maternal death from venous thromboembolism clinical recommendations based on current literature

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J Perinat Med. 2022 May 19. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2022-0069. Online ahead of print.


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is one of the leading causes of direct maternal deaths. It has been estimated that approximately 50% of these deaths are potentially preventable. The UK Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and the National Partnership for Maternal Safety have proposed strategies for the prevention of maternal deaths from VTE based on current guideline recommendations. The main strategies include: – Early recognition and comprehensive assessment of risk factors for VTE at different times from the beginning of pregnancy until patient’s discharge from hospital. – Appropriate risk stratification using standardized VTE risk assessment tools (e.g. the Royal College Scoring System). – Risk-based antenatal and postnatal heparin thromboprophylaxis adjusting the heparin dosage and the duration of prophylaxis to the individual patient’s risk. – Adequate management of heparin prophylaxis before and after delivery. – Preference of universal rather than selective post-cesarean heparin thromboprophylaxis and application of perioperative mechanical prophylaxis. – Avoidance of gaps in the postpartum prescription of heparin. – Good communication and cooperation between primary and secondary care including community midwifery staff in the postpartum period. – Immediate intravenous administration of (unfractionated) heparin, if pulmonary embolism is suspected. – Critical analysis of all thromboembolic events, particularly in association with maternal death to learn from failures and to realize, if and where improvement is needed. Adequate pharmacological thromboprophylaxis has the potential to reduce the risk of VTE by 60-70% in pregnant women at increased risk.

PMID:35585683 | DOI:10.1515/jpm-2022-0069