Monitoring of anti-xa in pregnant patients with mechanical prosthetic valves receiving low-molecular-weight heparin: Peak or trough levels?

Sorel Goland, Shmuel Schwartzenberg, John Fan, Natasha Kozak, Nudrat Khatri, Uri Elkayam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We hypothesized that the guideline-recommended peak anti-Xa levels for pregnant women with mechanical prosthetic heart valves (MPHVs) receiving adjusted dose low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) are associated with subtherapeutic trough levels and consequently with an inadequate level of anticoagulation. Background: Low-molecular-weight heparin is often used for anticoagulation in pregnant women including those with MPHV. American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines recommend monitoring of plasma anti-Xa factor peak levels and adjustment of the dose to achieve peak levels of 0.7 to 1.2 U/mL. In spite of these recommendations, cases of valve thrombosis during pregnancy continue to occur. Methods and Results: We studied 30 pregnant patients receiving anticoagulation for various indications with adjusted dose LMWH given subcutaneously twice a day which had both trough and peak anti-Xa levels throughout pregnancy for a total of 187 paired determinations. The recommended peak anti-Xa levels (0.7-1.2 U/mL) were obtained in 123 (66%) of the measurements but in 80% of them, the trough levels were found to be subtherapeutic (<0.6 U/mL). Subtherapeutic trough levels were found in 8 (73%) of the 11 measurements with peak levels of 0.7 to 0.79 U/mL, 17 (74%) of the 23 of 0.8 to 0.89 U/mL, 21 (72%) of the 29 of 0.9 to 0.99 U/ mL, and 28 (44%) of the 63 of 1.0 to 1.2 U/mL. There were 42 measurements with peak anti-Xa levels >1.2 U/mL and even in these cases, 13 (31%) of the trough levels were found to be subtherapeutic. Conclusions: Anticoagulation with adjusted dose LMWH aimed to achieve guideline-recommended peak levels of anti-Xa for patients with MPHVs is commonly associated with subtherapeutic trough levels. Routine measurement of trough anti-Xa levels is therefore advisable in women with MPHV treated with LMWH during pregnancy to assure adequate level of anticoagulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-456
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticoagulation
  • Low-molecular-weight heparin
  • Mechanical prosthetic heart valves
  • Pregnancy


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