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Ann Intern Med. 2017 Aug 1;167(3):170-180. doi: 10.7326/M17-0284. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

Benefits and Risks of Antithrombotic Therapy in Essential Thrombocythemia: A Systematic Review.

Author information

From McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



Patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET) are at high risk for both thrombosis and hemorrhage.


To evaluate the risks and benefits of antithrombotic therapy in adults with ET.

Data Sources:

Multiple databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, through 4 March 2017.

Study Selection:

Randomized and observational studies of antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapy, published in any language and reporting thrombotic or hemorrhagic events.

Data Extraction:

Two reviewers independently extracted data, assessed risk of bias, and graded certainty of evidence.

Data Synthesis:

No relevant randomized trials were identified. Twenty-four observational studies (18 comparative and 6 single-group) involving 6153 patients followed for 31 711 patient-years were reviewed; most were deemed to have high risk of bias. Most patients receiving antiplatelet therapy (3613 of 4527 [80%]) received low-dose aspirin (50 to 150 mg/d); 914 (20%) received high-dose aspirin (300 to 600 mg/d), dipyridamole, or other agents. Overall, findings were inconsistent and imprecise. The reported incidence rates of thrombosis, any bleeding, and major bleeding without antiplatelet therapy ranged from 5 to 110 (median, 20), from 3 to 39 (median, 8), and from 2 to 53 (median, 6) cases per 1000 patient-years, respectively. The reported relative risks for thrombosis, any bleeding, and major bleeding with antiplatelet therapy compared with none ranged from 0.26 to 3.48 (median, 0.74), from 0.48 to 11.04 (median, 1.95), and from 0.48 to 5.17 (median, 1.30), respectively. Certainty of evidence was rated low or very low for all outcomes.


No randomized trials, no extractable data on anticoagulants, lack of uniform bleeding definitions, and systematic reporting of outcomes.


Available evidence about the risk-benefit ratio of antiplatelet therapy in adults with ET is highly uncertain.

Primary Funding Source:

Regional Medical Associates. (PROSPERO: CRD42015027051).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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