Heparin is used as an anticoagulant or blood thinner. It prevents the clotting of blood. It has been widely used for treating and preventing blood clots in the veins, arteries, or lungs. Doctors use this medicine to decrease the risk of blood clotting before surgery. It is also used for other purposes other than the medication guides suggests. It is quite helpful in dialysis and heart surgery. It is also used for the bed-ridden patients. It prevents the formation of clots in blood. It can’t break already formed clots but helps body mechanism to normally break down the clots. Thus it is used for treating blood clots.

What are the side effects of Heparin?

Heparin is being produced for nearly 8 decades. It is a widely used medicine. It can cause many side effects. One of the most severe side effects is heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT syndrome). It occurs due to an immune reaction that leads to abnormal clot formation within the blood vessels. Clot formation can result into thrombosis, on the other hand loss of coagulation factors and platelets may lead to bleeding. HITS can occur immediately or later after use of heparin.

Baxter Healthcare Corporation, who was the largest heparin producer, recalled it from market after contamination in heparin was found. There was a sharp increase in heparin-related side effects. It can cause many allergic reactions such as breathing difficulty, nausea and vomiting. Excessive sweating and rapidly falling blood pressure are other allergic symptoms. Some people may experience itching, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.

Heparin use can lead to bleeding. It can occur while heparin is being used and sometimes even after a long period of discontinuing this medicine. This unusual bleeding can crop up from nose, urine or stool. Any other nonstop bleeding is also a sign of allergic side effect of heparin.

While having heparin injection some patients may feel nausea, lightheadedness, sweating or difficulty in breathing. In this case a doctor should be consulted.

If you feel sudden numbness or weakness in your body, especially on one side or headache, confusion or problems with vision, speech, or balance after use of Heparin it is advisable to stop use of Heparin and consult a doctor.

Other severe side effects may include pain or swelling in legs; difficulty in breathing; fever, chills, runny nose, or watery eyes. Some may feel redness or bluish skin, mild pain, itching or other skin changes at the place of injection. Other side effects may also occur. If some unusual side effects occur then it is better to consult a doctor.

Precautions Before Using Heparin

People suffering from high blood pressure, an infection related to heart, hemophilia or other bleeding disorder should consult the doctor before using heparin.

A stomach or intestinal disorder, liver disease, or women in their menstrual period should also consult the doctor before taking heparin.

Heparin can exaggerate the risk of bleeding, if taken with some other medicines like aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Tell your doctor if you are taking any other drugs, before going for heparin. Also consult your doctor before taking any other drug if you are using heparin.

Older women have higher risk of having bleeding episodes with use of heparin. It’s advisable to consult your doctor if you are a woman over sixty.