What are the Most Common Uses for Heparin Drips?

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  • Written By: Christina Crockett
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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A heparin drip has many uses to prevent various conditions caused by blood clots. Heparin drips are mainly administered to prevent the formation of blood clots. Used in hospitals around the world, heparin drips are commonly administered to prevent bedridden patients from developing embolisms and blood clots and to prevent the enlargement of existing clots. Heparin is a medication that is considered an anticoagulant.

There is no oral form of heparin, so this medication is administered either as an injection under the skin or directly into the bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) drip system. Common uses for the drip include giving patients who are bedridden for long periods of time a low daily dose to prevent potential life-threatening blood clots. Heparin is known to prevent the development of deep venous thrombosis, which occurs in the veins of the legs, thighs and pelvis. These types of clots commonly cause strokes and deadly pulmonary embolisms. Such pulmonary embolisms can move to the lungs from the heart, thus blocking the flow of blood the larger portions of the lung, resulting in depletion of oxygen.


Heparin drips are also used to prevent smaller, high-risk blood clots inside the heart or other parts of the body from enlarging. If left untreated, these blood clots can turn into embolisms or strokes. These drips also might be used during heart surgery or operations on the large arteries in order to prevent the formation of blood clots. They also are used to treat strokes caused by types of blood clots. Such conditions associated with strokes and blood clots might include dural sinus thrombosis, carotid or vertebral dissection, atrial fibrillation, deep venous thrombosis and clots forming inside the carotid artery.

These drips also might be administered following particular procedures that might include blood transfusions or extractions used for blood tests, dialysis and major abdominal surgeries or thoracic surgeries. Doses vary depending on the patient's condition, but might be administered as a continuous drip, requiring a coagulation test every couple of hours. Doctors might also administer an intermittent drip, requiring a coagulation test before each drip. Side effects of heparin drips are rare but can be more prevalent in patients who are more than 60 years old and might include infections of the heart lining, hemophilia, high blood pressure, liver disease, stomach or intestinal disorders and excessive hemorrhaging, to name a few.


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Post 2
@Ahmerus: Heparin is often referred to as a "blood thinner", but in fact, it does not thin blood and it will not dissolve clots that have previously formed. Heparin can however, in addition to preventing new clots from forming, also prevent clots that have previously formed from growing larger.
Post 1

The article indicates that heparin is used to "prevent the formation of blood clots". Since it is a blood thinner, will heparin also dissolve clots that have already formed?

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