Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Primary prophylaxis with warfarin prevents thrombosis in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)

  1. Claire Hall,
  2. Stephen Richards, and
  3. Peter Hillmen
  1. From the Haematological Malignancy Diagnostic Service (HMDS), Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds, United Kingdom.


Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired hemolytic anemia in which venous thrombosis is the most common cause of death. Here we address the risk factors for thrombosis and the role of warfarin prophylaxis in PNH. The median follow-up of 163 PNH patients was 6 years (range, 0.2-38 years). Of the patients, 29 suffered thromboses, with a 10-year incidence of 23%. There were 9 patients who presented with thrombosis, and in the remainder the median time to thrombosis was 4.75 years (range, 3 months-15 years). The 10-year risk of thrombosis in patients with large PNH clones (PNH granulocytes > 50%) was 44% compared with 5.8% with small clones (P < .01). Patients with large PNH clones and no contraindication to anticoagulation were offered warfarin. There were no thromboses in the 39 patients who received primary prophylaxis. In comparison, 56 patients with large clones and not taking warfarin had a 10-year thrombosis rate of 36.5% (P = .01). There were 2 serious hemorrhages in more than 100 patient-years of warfarin therapy. Large PNH granulocyte clones are predictive of venous thrombosis, although the exact cut-off for clone size is still to be determined. Primary prophylaxis with warfarin in PNH prevents thrombosis with acceptable risks. (Blood. 2003;102:3587-3591)

  • Submitted January 3, 2003.
  • Accepted May 27, 2003.
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