Assessment and management of venous thromboembolism risk during pregnancy and the puerperium (SAVE): The South African cohort

  • P Naidoo
  • R Mothilal
  • L.C. Snyman


Background. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Pregnancy and the puerperium are hypercoagulable states and increase the risk of VTE. There is a paucity of South African (SA) data related to use of thromboprophylaxis during pregnancy and the puerperium.

Objectives. To evaluate local practice of VTE risk stratification among SA pregnant women and senior doctors’ attitudes to VTE prophylaxis.

Methods. This was a cross-sectional descriptive study of conveniently sampled sites in the private and public health sectors. Patients with confirmed pregnancy and an underlying medical condition were enrolled after giving informed consent. Assessments were made based on the participating doctors’ questionnaires and case report forms. In essence, this was a local evaluation of a specific group of patients by a specific group of doctors.

Results. Two hundred and twenty patients were enrolled at six sites. In the participating doctors’ opinion, 126/220 women assessed (57.2%) were at risk of VTE during pregnancy and the postpartum period (information was missing for 1 woman during the postpartum period). Of the women at risk of VTE, 23/126 (18.3%) were at high risk, 59/126 (46.8%) at moderate risk and 44/126 (34.9%) at low risk. Of the women identified as at risk of VTE, 104/127 (81.9%) received some form of VTE prophylaxis; 94/127 (74.0%) were at risk during pregnancy and 32/126 (25.4%) during the postpartum period. Of those who received pharmacological treatment, 15/15 received low-molecular-weight heparin during pregnancy and before delivery and 87/100 during the puerperium. Thirty-four patients received thromboprophylaxis for only 5 - 10 days after caesarean delivery, and 2 received mechanical thromboprophylaxis during pregnancy.

Conclusions. Doctors participating in the study were generally aware of VTE risk during pregnancy and the puerperium. Pharmacological thromboprophylaxis was the most commonly used intervention to reduce VTE risk. Mechanical thromboprophylaxis was underutilised. Adherence to VTE guidelines, specifically in terms of duration of thromboprophylaxis and its utilisation during pregnancy, was suboptimal.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135