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August 1987

Timing of Oral Anticoagulation Therapy in the Treatment of Angiographically Proven Acute Pulmonary Embolism

Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(8):1469-1473. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370080105020

• The optimal time to begin oral anticoagulation therapy with warfarin sodium in the treatment of acute pulmonary embolism has not been defined. To evaluate the relative cost, efficacy, and safety of early initiation of warfarin therapy, we reviewed the medical records of 38 patients with angiographically proven pulmonary embolism. Patients were divided into two groups: those who received warfarin early (≤3 days after initial heparin sodium bolus, n=17) and those who were treated late (>3 days after initial heparin bolus, n=21). After three months of follow-up, there was a similar incidence of mortality, recurrent pulmonary embolism, and bleeding complications in both treatment groups. Length of hospitalization was substantially less in the early group (9.6 ± vs 11.8±2.1 days). Early warfarin therapy in the treatment of acute pulmonary embolism appears to be both cost-effective and safe. A prospective multicenter controlled trial should be performed.

(Arch Intern Med 1987;147:1469-1473)