A randomised controlled trial of extended anticoagulation treatment versus standard treatment for the prevention of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) and post-thrombotic syndrome in patients being treated for a first episode of unprovoked VTE (the ExACT study)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Charlotte Bradbury
  • Kate Fletcher
  • Carl J. Heneghan
  • Chris Gardiner
  • Debbie McCahon
  • Gail Heritage
  • Helen Shackleford
  • Richard Hobbs

External organisations

  • Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
  • University of Oxford


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is prevalent and impactful, with a risk of death, morbidity and recurrence. Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a common consequence and associated with impaired quality of life (QoL). The ExACT study was a non-blinded, prospective, multicentred randomised controlled trial comparing extended versus limited duration anticoagulation following a first unprovoked VTE (proximal deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism). Adults were eligible if they had completed ≥3 months anticoagulation (remaining anticoagulated). The primary outcome was time to first recurrent VTE from randomisation. The secondary outcomes included PTS severity, bleeding, QoL and D-dimers. Two-hundred and eighty-one patients were recruited, randomised and followed up for 24 months (mean age 63, male:female 2:1). There was a significant reduction in recurrent VTE for patients receiving extended anticoagulation [2·75 vs. 13·54 events/100 patient years, adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 0·20 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0·09 to 0·46, P < 0·001)] with a non-significant increase in major bleeding [3·54 vs. 1·18 events/100 patient years, aHR 2·99 (95% CI: 0·81–11·05, P = 0·10)]. Outcomes of PTS and QoL were no different between groups. D-dimer results (on anticoagulation) did not predict VTE recurrence. In conclusion, extended anticoagulation reduced VTE recurrence but did not reduce PTS or improve QoL and was associated with a non-significant increase in bleeding. Results also suggest very limited clinical utility of D-dimer testing on anticoagulated patients.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2019


  • thrombosis (venous), anticoagulation, warfarin, post-thrombotic syndrome, D-dimer