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      Heparin overview and issues.

      Drug Monitoring, Fibrinolytic Agents, adverse effects, pharmacology, therapeutic use, Heparin, Humans, Partial Thromboplastin Time, Thrombosis, prevention & control

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          Unfractionated heparin (UFH), which has been available commercially for over half a century, has been the most widely used agent for quickly suppressing thrombosis. When given intravenously, UFH quickly binds to and activates antithrombin, which then inhibits several activated factors in the clotting cascade. For decades, UFH was invaluable for treating arterial and venous thrombosis, and no alternative was available. The short half-life of UFH and the fact that its action could be reversed readily with protamine made it an almost ideal antithrombotic agent. However, variable pharmacokinetics, together with problems of inaccuracy and unreliability of the activated partial thromboplastin time, have made it difficult to use this drug optimally. In addition, side effects such as osteoporosis, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), and delayed HIT have led to increased concerns about the use of UFH in view of the advantages offered by newer agents. Fractionating heparin into low-molecular-weight heparins that still retain the pentasaccharide active site provided a way to achieve the same type of therapeutic effect with more predictable dosing and fewer adverse effects. Similarly, a pentasaccharide has been synthesized and marketed as fondaparinux. Although these advances have improved our therapeutic options, continued advances on the horizon raise the question of whether the use of UFH will soon be abandoned.

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          Drug Monitoring,Fibrinolytic Agents,adverse effects,pharmacology,therapeutic use,Heparin,Humans,Partial Thromboplastin Time,Thrombosis,prevention & control


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