Common Anticoagulation Therapy - Heparin Therapy

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Fundamentals of Hemostasis. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Common Anticoagulation Therapy - Heparin Therapy

The use of heparin is prophylactic. It is used either to prevent thromboembolism (a condition in which a blood clot forms inside a vessel and becomes dislodged), or used to limit a previous thromboembolism. Other key points about heparin include:

  • Heparin inhibits thrombin. The degree of inhibition is dosage dependent.
  • Low doses of heparin inhibit initial thrombin formation in the coagulation cascade, and act to slow down overall thrombin generation.
  • At higher doses, heparin can inhibit thrombin entirely, making blood coagulation impossible.
  • Heparin is a potent anticoagulant. Accurate monitoring is essential.
The activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) and/or activated clotting time is used to monitor unfractionated heparin therapy.