Journal of Geriatric Cardiology 2011/8:2 PP.114-120
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the commonest cause of preventable death in hospitalized patients. Elderly patients have higher risk of VTE because of the high prevalence of predisposing comorbidities and acute illnesses. Clinical diagnosis of VTE in the elderly patient is particularly difficult and, as such, adequate VTE prophylaxis is of pivotal importance in reducing the mortality and morbidities of VTE. Omission of VTE prophylaxis is, however, very common despite continuous education. A simple way to overcome this problem is to implement universal VTE prophylaxis for all hospitalized elderly patients instead of selective prophylaxis for some patients only according to individual’s risk of VTE. Although pharmacological VTE prophylaxis is effective for most patients, a high prevalence of renal impairment and drug interactions in the hospitalized elderly patients suggests that a multimodality approach may be more appropriate. Mechanical VTE prophylaxis, including calf and thigh compression devices and/or an inferior vena cava filter, are often underutilized in hospitalized elderly patients who are at high-risk of bleeding and VTE. Because pneumatic compression devices and thigh length stockings are virtually risk free, mechanical VTE prophylaxis may allow early or immediate implementation of VTE prophylaxis for all hospitalized elderly patients, regardless of their bleeding and VTE risk. Although the cost-effectiveness of this Multimodality Universal STat (MUST) VTE prophylaxis approach for hospitalized elderly patients remains uncertain, this strategy appears to offer some advantages over the traditional selective and single-modal VTE prophylaxis approach, which often becomes hit or miss or not implemented promptly in many hospitalized elderly patients. A large clustered randomized controlled trial is, however, needed to assess whether early, multimodality, universal VTE prophylaxis can improve important clinical outcomes of hospitalized elderly patients.
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