Physicians and patients consider the balance between benefits and risks of treatment when making decisions about the use of anticoagulants for the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The results of early trials demonstrating the efficacy of heparin compared with placebo or no thromboprophylaxis for the prevention of fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) led to adoption of routine anticoagulant prophylaxis in patients considered to be at increased risk of VTE. More recent trials comparing new anticoagulants with heparin have most commonly used the composite outcome, asymptomatic (or "silent") deep vein thrombosis (DVT), detected by screening venography, and symptomatic (or "patient-important") VTE, as the primary measure of efficacy [1-3]. © 2012 International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis.
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