Heparin is employed in the prevention of blood clot formation among individuals with specific medical conditions or those undergoing particular medical procedures that heighten the risk of clot formation. It is additionally utilized to inhibit the further growth of clots already present in the blood vessels. Heparin can also prevent blood clot formation in catheters, which are small plastic tubes used for medication administration or blood withdrawal and left in veins for an extended duration. Heparin belongs to the category of drugs known as anticoagulants, commonly referred to as ‘blood thinners.’ Its mechanism of action involves reducing the clotting ability of the blood.
Uses and Dosage
Heparin is available as a solution for intravenous (IV) or subcutaneous (under the skin) injection, as well as a diluted (less concentrated) solution for administration into intravenous catheters. Avoid administering heparin into a muscle.
The frequency of heparin injections can range from one to six times a day or as a slow, continuous IV infusion. Heparin should be used exactly as prescribed, without altering the dosage or frequency without medical approval.
When using heparin to prevent blood clot formation in intravenous catheters, it is typically administered during catheter insertion and each time blood is drawn or medication is given through the catheter.
Heparin administration may be performed by a healthcare professional, or patients may be instructed to self-inject the medication at home. If self-administering, patients will receive proper instruction from a healthcare provider on injection techniques, including the location on the body for injection and the safe disposal of used needles and syringes.
Heparin solution comes in different strengths, and using the wrong strength can lead to severe complications. Patients must verify the package label to ensure they are using the correct strength prescribed by their doctor. If any discrepancy is identified, the use of heparin should be halted immediately, and the doctor or pharmacist should be notified promptly.
Throughout the course of heparin treatment, dosage adjustments may be made by the doctor. Patients who self-inject must be well-informed about the appropriate dosage to use during their treatment. Regular communication with the healthcare provider is crucial to ensure safe and effective heparin use.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- redness, pain, bruising, or sores at the spot where heparin was injected
- hair loss
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
- stool that contains bright red blood or is black and tarry
- blood in urine
- excessive tiredness
- chest pain, pressure, or squeezing discomfort
- discomfort in the arms, shoulder, jaw, neck, or back
- coughing up blood
- excessive sweating
- sudden severe headache
- lightheadedness or fainting
- sudden loss of balance or coordination
- sudden trouble walking
- sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- sudden confusion, or difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- purple or black skin discoloration
- pain and blue or dark discoloration in the arms or legs
- itching and burning, especially on the bottoms of the feet
Prior to using heparin, inform your doctor or pharmacist about any allergies you may have, including allergies to heparin itself, pork products, or pentosan polysulfate sodium. Additionally, be sure to disclose any other allergies you may experience. The product may contain inactive ingredients, such as benzyl alcohol in certain brands, which can lead to allergic reactions or other issues.
Before commencing treatment with this medication, inform your doctor or pharmacist about your medical history, particularly if you have a history of bleeding or blood-related disorders, hypertension, heart problems, recent surgical procedures, cancer, stomach/intestinal ulcers, tube drainage, liver disease, or high levels of potassium in the blood.
To minimize the risk of cuts, bruises, or injuries, exercise caution when handling sharp objects such as razors and nail cutters, and avoid engaging in activities with a high risk of physical contact, such as contact sports.
This medication may lead to stomach bleeding. Consuming alcohol on a daily basis while using this medicine can increase the likelihood of stomach bleeding. Limit the intake of alcoholic beverages.
This medication contains sodium. If you are following a salt-restricted diet or have a condition that may worsen with increased salt intake (e.g., congestive heart failure), consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Older adults, particularly women over 60 years of age, may be more susceptible to the side effects of this drug, especially bleeding.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly necessary. Discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor.
This medication does not pass into breast milk. If you are considering breast-feeding, consult your doctor before doing so.
Form and Strength
Heparin Injection is available in the following forms and strengths:
Heparin Injection vial:
How does Heparin work in the body?
Heparin makes your blood less able to clot. To do this, it makes thrombin inactive. Thrombin has a major role in the clot-making process.
Is Heparin a strong blood thinner?
Heparin is strong and fast-acting.