Heparin is an injectable anticoagulant which is used to treat or given to prevent blood clots. It can be given to patients when they are in a hospital or primary care setting depending on the recommendations of the prescriber.
Heparin is also used to treat and prevent cancer associated thrombosis(CAT)
Low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) and standard unfractionised heparin are two types of heparin commonly used as anticoagulants to treat blood clotting, and given as a preventative treatment when patients have had certain types of surgery.
Standard (unfractionised) heparin can be given as a intravenous injection inection into the vein, or by a intravenous infusion(drip) or a subcutaneous injection under the skin normally in the tummy area.
Standard heparin can work diffently from person to person so the dosage must be carefully monitored and adjusted and a hospital stay may be necessary to ensure the right dose is given
LMWH is usually given as a subcutaneous injection and can normally be administered by the individual or their carer/healthcare professional without the need for hospitalisation and monitoring
Both heparins can cause side effects, including:
- a skin rash
- weakening of the bones
LMWH can be given to pregnant women who may be assessed at a higher risk of developing blood clots. It can also provide a heparin 'bridge' to protect patients who may have to stop taking other anticoagulants when undertaking surgery.