Heparin is a medication given by injection. It’s used to make the blood less able to form clots so that patients don’t develop blood clots in their veins. Sometimes, people refer to this medication as a blood thinner, but it doesn’t make the blood thinner. It can’t be used to get rid of existing blood clots. However, it can keep them from getting any bigger and having more severe problems develop.

This medication treats and prevents several lung, heart, and blood vessel conditions. It’s also given to patients who have had a blood transfusion, bypass surgery, open-heart surgery, or kidney dialysis. It’s administered in a small dose in some patients to keep them from getting blood clots. This is often done when the patient may need a specific surgery, or they may be staying in bed for an extended period. This medication can also be used to treat and diagnose disseminated intravascular coagulation, a blood condition that can be serious.

Heparin is also used to keep blood clots from developing inside catheters. These tiny tubes are placed into a vein so that medications can be administered and blood can be taken. This medication is in a drug class called anticoagulants. It works by lowering the ability of blood to form clots.

Heparin Precautions and Warnings

Your doctor must check you once you have left the hospital to check for any adverse effects from this medication. If you’re using heparin at home, you must get blood tests to look for any problems. While you take this medication, don’t take ibuprofen, aspirin, or any NSAIDs. Before taking an over-the-counter medication, read the ingredients and see whether they are inside.

It’s possible to bruise and bleed much easier with this medication. It’s a good idea to avoid rough activities like contact sports or other activities where you might get cut, bruised, or get other injuries. If you fall or get a blow to your head or anywhere on your body, tell your doctor right away. You could have internal bleeding from this situation. Take care when you use scissors, nail clippers, or anything else sharp. Don’t pick your nose while on this medication. You can gently blow your nose. If you get any unusual bleeding or bruising, let your doctor know. You also need to inform your doctor if any red spots appear on your skin, tarry, black stools, or blood in your urine.

When caring for your dental health, be careful not to cause bleeding. Avoid irritating the gums when you brush your teeth, floss, or use a toothpick. Your doctor might have advice about cleaning your teeth while taking this medication. Before you get any dental procedures, talk to your doctor. Also, let your dentist know that you’ve had this medication.

It’s possible to have a severe kind of allergic reaction to heparin. This type is called anaphylaxis. This can be extremely serious and even life-threatening. If this happens to you, you must get medical treatment immediately. This type of reaction can come with itching, trouble breathing, a rash, chest pain, and swelling of your throat, tongue, and face.

For some patients, heparin can cause the formation of new blood clots. This can happen while a patient is taking this medication or even after it’s no longer being used. Tell your doctor immediately if you have pain in your legs, groin, or chest, vision changes, a severe headache, difficulty breathing, slurred speech, or any other severe symptoms.

You shouldn’t use this medication to flush an IV catheter. Life-threatening bleeding could result from this. You shouldn’t use this medication if you have a severe lack of blood platelets or uncontrolled bleeding. If you’ve ever had a diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia or if you’ve had heparin or another medication caused you to have low platelets. You may need to get tested to see how long it takes your blood to clot while taking this medication.

Heparin Side Effects

There are many side effects possible from taking heparin. Some of the most common side effects include uncontrolled bleeding, abnormal results on liver function tests, unusual bruising or bleeding, and allergic reactions. This drug can result in bleeding very quickly. This can become severe and even life-threatening. You may have bleeding on the outside of your body, but it could also be on the inside.

You may have episodes of bleeding during the time you’re taking the medication and as long as a few weeks afterward. If you’re older, you have a higher risk of this happening, particularly If you’re a woman aged 60 or older.

It’s possible to have a severe allergic reaction to this medication. This may cause you to feel like you’re going to pass out, or you have nausea, sweating, itching, vomiting, hives, trouble breathing, or you get swelling in your throat, tongue, face, or lips.

If you have any of these symptoms, get medical attention right away:

  • Shortness of breath, sweating, anxiety, and dizziness
  • Skin discoloration or warmth
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Irregular heartbeats and chest pain
  • Skin on the feet or hands that gets darker or turns blue
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Severe pain in your groin, lower back, or stomach
  • Bleeding that you can’t stop
  • Tarry and black stools, blood in stools or urine, or nosebleed
  • Seeing blood when you cough or vomit up what resembles coffee grounds
  • Fever, running nose, chills, or watering eyes
  • Changes in the skin at the injection site
  • Red or purple spots, unusual bleeding, or easily bruising
  • Signs that you have a blood clot, including trouble with speech or vision, sudden weakness or numbness, and swelling in a leg or arm

Heparin Drug Interactions

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, shouldn’t be taken along with heparin unless the doctor orders it. These drugs include ibuprofen, celecoxib, meloxicam, naproxen, indomethacin, and diclofenac. Taking heparin and an NSAID can lead to a patient bleeding or bruising more easily.

It’s important to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications. You especially need to do this when you’re taking digitalis, nicotine, tetracyclines, antihistamines, and any blood thinners like Warfarin and Fragmin.

FAQs of Heparin

Can you take this medication during pregnancy?

If you’re pregnant, you can generally use this medication as long as it doesn’t come with a preservative. When preservatives are in this medication, it can harm the baby. This drug’s safety during pregnancy, however, isn’t known. However, it would be best if you never breastfeed while you’re taking this medication.

Can I take OTC pain relievers with this medication?

No, using both at the same time can leave you open to serious side effects like uncontrollable bleeding.

Can you be allergic to Heparin?

Yes, allergic reactions happen, and they can be severe. If you have trouble breathing or swelling in your mouth or face, you may have a severe reaction and need emergency medical help.

Does heparin cause any side effects?

Many side effects can happen, though many people never get them. Side effects can include unusual bruising or bleeding, nausea, and fatigue, among many possible effects.

Can this medication cure blood clots?

No, it won’t remove a blood clot, but it can keep the clot from worsening and prevent some of the problems it can cause.

Why is this medication prescribed?

It can keep new blood clots from forming while a person gets surgery or has to lie in bed for a long time. These are risk factors for blood clots; heparin reduces the risk of developing them.

What are the strengths and dosages of Heparin?

Heparin is a drug that’s given through an IV. It comes in strengths based on the number of units per mL. These are 1,000 units, 5,000 units, 10,000 units, and 20,000 units per mL. The coagulation problem determines the exact dosage a patient gets. It’s common for doctors to start a patient at 5,000 units in their IV, and this may go up later.

What is the cost of Heparin in America?

The cost is high for this injectable drug, and the price depends on the strength of the dosages. A bottle that contains 1 g of this medication costs an average of about $436.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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