There is no firm evidence either for or against the use of systemic anticoagulants (ACs) in patients with asymptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE) following hemodialysis vascular access declotting (HVAD).
However, despite the common occurrence of asymptomatic PE following HVAD procedures (~40%), symptomatic PE—at times fatal—has also been reported in these patients1,2.
In the absence of hard data and any contraindications, anticoagulation can be justified in our patient for the following reasons:
- Asymptomatic segmental PE is commonly treated as symptomatic PE irrespective of setting2,3
- Hemodialysis patients are often considered hypercoagulable due to a variety of factors eg, platelet activation due to extracorporeal circulation, anti-cardiolipin antibody, lupus anticoagulant, decreased protein C or S activity, and/or reduced anti-thrombin III activity4-7
- Overall, chronic dialysis patients have higher incidence of PE compared to the general population8
- There is no evidence that asymptomatic PE following HVAD has a more benign course compared to that in other settings
- Untreated PE may be associated with repeated latent thrombosis or progression of thrombosis in the pulmonary artery5
- Calderon K, Jhaveri KD, Mossey R. Pulmonary embolism following thrombolysis of dialysis access: Is anticoagulation really necessary? Semin Dial 2010:23:522-25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21039878
- Sadjadi SA, Sharif-Hassanabadi M. Fatal pulmonary embolism after hemodialysis vascular access declotting. Am J Case Rep 2014;15:172-75. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4004792/pdf/amjcaserep-15-172.pdf
- Chiu V, O’Connell C. Management of the incidental pulmonary embolism. AJR 2017;208:485-88. http://www.ajronline.org/doi/pdf/10.2214/AJR.16.17201
- Kearon C, Akl EA, Ornelas J, et al. Antithrombotic therapy for VTE disease: Chest guideline and expert panel report. CHEST 2016;149:315-52. http://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(15)00335-9/fulltext
- Yamasaki K, Haruyama N, Taniguchi M, et al. Subacute pulmonary embolism in a hemodialysis patient, successfully treated with surgical thrombectomy. CEN Case Rep 2016;5:74-77 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13730-015-0195-9
- Nampoory MR, Das KC, Johny KV, et al. Hypercoagulability, a serious problem in patients with ESRD on maintenance hemodialysis, and its correction after kidney transplantation. Am J Kidney Dis 2003;42:797-805. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14520631
- O’Shea SI, Lawson JH, Reddan D, et al. Hypercoagulable states and antithrombotic strategies in recurrent vascular access site thrombosis. J Vasc Surg 2003;38: 541-48. http://www.jvascsurg.org/article/S0741-5214(03)00321-5/pdf
- Tveit DP, Hypolite IO, Hshieh P, et al. Chronic dialysis patients have high risk for pulmonary embolism. Am J Kidney Dis 2002;39:1011-17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11979344
Although traditionally we think of epistaxis as a potential sign of hypertension, particularly when severe, whether hypertension causes epistaxis is unclear and even the association of these 2 conditions has been challenged in recent years.
A 2014 systematic review found that although the majority of studies reported an association between these 2 conditions, many did not include a control group, were of poor methodological quality and did not adjust for confounding variables such as age, sex, and anticoagulation1. Indeed, a larger study that controlled for many potential confounding factors failed to confirm such an association2. A small prospective study also found no correlation between the severity of hypertension and epistaxis3.
Even when an association between hypertension and epistaxis has been found, it is unclear how much of the stress of bleeding itself and white coat syndrome may affect the readings1. However, an interesting 2017 study found masked hypertension (normal blood pressure in office, abnormal on ambulatory measurements) in 33.3% of patients with epistaxis with night time blood pressures that were significantly higher among patients with epistaxis4.
So the data is all over the place! It makes sense that long standing hypertension through its effects on blood vessels such as atherosclerosis and endothelium dysfunction may set the stage for epistaxis1,5, particularly in our ever-aging population on anticoagulants. But whether hypertension by itself is enough to cause epistaxis is likely to be debated for years to come.
- Kikidis D, Tsioufis K, Papanikolaou V, et al. Is epistaxis associated with arterial hypertension? A systematic review of the literature 2014;271:237-243. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23539411
- Fuchs FD, Moreira LB, Pires CP, et al. Absence of association between hypertension and epistaxis: a population-based study. Blood Press 12:145-48. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08037050310001750
- Knopfholz J, Lima-Junior E, Précoma-Neto D, et al. Association between epistaxis and hypertension: A one year follow-up after an index episode of nose bleeding in hypertensive patients. Internat J Cardiol 2009;134:e107-e109. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18499285
- Acar B, Yavuz B, Yildiz E, et al. A possible cause of epistaxis: increased masked hypertension prevalence in patients with epistaxis. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 2017;83:45-49. http://www.scielo.br/pdf/bjorl/v83n1/1808-8694-bjorl-83-01-0045.pdf
- Celik T, Iyisoy A, Yuksel UC, et al. A new evidence of end-organ damage in the patients with arterial hypertension: epistaxis? Internat J Cardiol 2008;141:105-107. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19138805
Behçet’s syndrome may cause life-threatening hemoptysis due to pulmonary artery aneurysms.1 In a cohort of 387 patients with such syndrome followed for over 20 years, massive hemoptysis was the leading cause of death, found most commonly early in the course of the disease among young men.2 Conversely, the one-year mortality of pulmonary artery aneurysm in Behçet’s may be greater than 50%.1 Behçet’s syndrome is the only vasculitic disease with a proclivity for large pulmonary vessels, while its less frequent pulmonary manifestations, such as fibrosis and thrombosis, overlap with other small vessel vasculitides.3 Beware that the initial presentation of pulmonary aneurysm rupture may be confused with that of pulmonary embolism, with potential for fatal complications from anticoagulation.1 CT angiogram should help in distinguishing the two conditions.
- Uzun O, Akpolat T, Erkan L. Pulmonary vasculitis in behcet disease: a cumulative analysis. Chest. 2005;127(6):2243-2253.
- Kural-Seyahi E, Fresko I, Seyahi N, et al. The long-term mortality and morbidity of Behçet syndrome: a 2-decade outcome survey of 387 patients followed at a dedicated center. Medicine (Baltimore). 2003;82(1):60-76.
- Hamuryudan V, Er T, Seyahi E, et al. Pulmonary artery aneurysms in Behçet syndrome. Am J Med. 2004;117(11):867-870.
Contributed by Sam Slavin, Harvard Medical Student
Seasonal variation, primarily characterized by a winter peak, has been reported for acute CV events, such as acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and sudden death, aortic rupture or dissection, and ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, and VTE (1). A meta-analysis involving patients with VTE, primarily with a diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, revealed a 20% absolute increase in the incidence of VTE during January (1).
Potential physiological mechanisms for these observations include increased sympathetic activity, decreased loss of fluids and sodium, increase in LDL cholesterol, increase in serum fibrinogen levels and other coagulation markers, and C-reactive protein, and lower vitamin D levels due to shorter daylight hours during winter months (1,2). At least in the case of AMI in the U.S., the higher incidence in winter is not affected by climate (2). Respiratory virus infections as a cause of acute inflammation leading to CV or VTE events is an intriguing hypothesis (3).
- Dentali F, Ageno W, Rancan E, et al. Seasonal and monthly variability in the incidence of venous thromboembolism. A systematic review and a meta-analysis of the literature. Thromb Haemost 2011;106:439-447.
- Spencer FA, Goldberg RJ, Becker RC, et al. Seasonal distribution of acute myocardial infarction in the Second National Registry of Myocardial Infarction. J Am Coll Cardiol 1998;31:1226-33.
- 3. Woodhouse PR, Khaw KT, Plummer M, et al. Seasonal variations of plasma fibrinogen and factor VII activity in the elderly: winter infections and death from cardiovascular disease. Lancet 1994;343:435-39.