BACKGROUND: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality therefore prevention is imperative to reduce its burden. VTE prophylaxis in ICU patients is primarily pharmacological using low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). Plasma anti-factor Xa (anti-FXa) levels may be used to measure LMWH activity. This study aims to determine the proportion of acutely ill patients in a general ICU receiving standard VTE prophylaxis that achieve adequate peak or trough anti-FXa prophylactic levels and to determine the effect of LMWH dose adjustment in patients not achieving adequate anti-FXa prophylactic levels. METHODS: Peak and trough anti-FXa levels were measured at four and 23 hours respectively after receiving the second consecutive daily enoxaparin 40 mg sc injection. Patients in whom peak anti-FXa levels were found to be sub-prophylactic (<0.2 IU/mL), were dose escalated to enoxaparin 60 mg once daily. Peak and trough levels were repeated as above. RESULTS: Sixty-one percent of study patients (N.=46) were found to have sub-prophylactic peak anti-FXa levels. Twenty-seven patients received an increased enoxaparin dose of 60 mg/d. Of these, nine patients (33.3%) still failed to achieve the target prophylactic peak anti-FXa level (0.2-0.4 IU/mL). Male gender and high body mass index (BMI) were significantly and strongly correlated with sub-prophylactic anti-FXa levels. CONCLUSIONS: Most ICU patients in this study did not achieve recommended prophylactic anti-FXa levels while receiving a standard dose of enoxaparin and these levels failed to increase after enoxaparin dose escalation in a significant proportion of patients. High BMI and male gender are associated with sub-prophylactic levels of anti-FXa in critically ill patients.
- Factor Xa
- Heparin, low-molecular-weight
- Venous thromboembolism