Friday, December 20, 2013

Heparin Patient Information

Heparin Patient Information

Heparin is a drug used to treat blood clots in the lungs or legs and to prevent blood clots following surgery, when collecting blood specimens, during dialysis or when a person is confined to bed for a long period of time. It an anticoagulant, a blood thinner, that works by creating a substance (anti-clotting protein) that occurs naturally in the body, allowing the free flow of blood.


Heparin is administered by injection or pill. A health care professional will give the injection subcutaneously, which means it is injected just below the skin rather than into a muscle. The location of the injection should be changed each time it is given to avoid irritation. A person may be taking it in a pill form, such as warfarin. Carefully follow the doctor's instructions regarding this medication.

Side Effects

Mild irritation, pain or warmth at the site of your injection is common, but changing the location each time should alleviate this problem. You should inform your doctor immediately if you experience pain, swelling, bluish tinged skin, mildly itchy feet, prolonged bleeding from a cut or from your gums, prolonged or heavy menstrual periods, nosebleeds, easy bruising, black stools, dark urine, unusual dizziness or severe headaches.

Serious Side Effects

Serious side effects can occur, including sudden headache, pain or swelling on one or both legs, fever, chills, runny nose, rash, hives, sudden weakness or numbness (particularly on one side of your body), unusual bruising or bleeding, blood in your urine or stool, nausea, vomit that is bloody or resembles coffee grounds, chest pain, excessive perspiration, loss of balance, fainting, confusion or speaking difficulties, vision problems or trouble breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop taking heparin and contact your doctor.

Drug Interactions

There may be interactions when taking heparin with some other medications. Inform your doctor if you are taking another blood thinner, Persantine, nicotine (lozenges, gum or patches), antihistamines (Benadryl or Dimetapp), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin or ibuprofen), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil or Quineprox), demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin, Solodyn) or any other tetracycline drugs.

Other Conditions

If you have certain other conditions, you should inform your doctor prior to taking heparin. These conditions include uncontrolled high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease, heart conditions, an intestinal disorder, a bleeding disorder (such as hemophilia), recent surgery, low platelet count, antithrombin III deficiency or if you are having a menstrual period.


Do not take heparin if you are allergic to it or if you are allergic to beef or pork products. Inform your dentist that you are taking heparin prior to having any dental work. If you are over the age of 60, you may have a higher risk of bleeding problems while taking heparin, particularly if you are a woman. Long-term use of heparin can lead to osteoporosis. If you experience signs of an allergic reaction, such as itching or swelling of your face, throat or tongue, trouble breathing, severe dizziness or rash, seek immediate medical care.

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