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Heparin Side Effects Center
Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Heparin (heparin sodium injectable) is a heterogeneous group of straight-chain anionic mucopolysaccharides, called glycosaminoglycans that have anticoagulant properties used to help prevent clot formation (for example, venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, coagulopathies and coronary artery clots). Heparin is available as generic heparin and under other generic brand names. Common side effects of Heparin are:
- easy bleeding and bruising;
- pain, redness, warmth, irritation, or skin changes where the medicine was injected;
- itching of your feet; or
- bluish-colored skin.
Heparin is available in vials at strengths of 1000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 units per ml. Dosage depends on the coagulation problem; many initial doses start with 5000 units IV, but this can change depending on the problem; guidelines for dosages are available. If benzyl alcohol is listed as a preservative for the Heparin preparation, do not use in neonates and infants or nursing mothers. If preparations without benzyl alcohol are used in pediatric patients, the initial dose is usually 50 units per Kg but a pediatric specialist should be consulted. Heparin may interact with aspirin or other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), other blood thinners, digoxin, dipyridamole, hydroxychloroquine, indomethacin, nicotine (cigarettes, gum, lozenges, or skin patches), nitroglycerin, antibiotics, and cold, allergy, or sleep medications. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using Heparin. It is unknown if heparin will harm a fetus. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
Our Heparin Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is Patient Information in Detail?
Easy-to-read and understand detailed drug information and pill images for the patient or caregiver from Cerner Multum.
Heparin in Detail - Patient Information: Side Effects
Heparin can cause you to have bleeding episodes while you are using it and for several weeks after you stop. Call your doctor at once if you have easy bruising or unusual bleeding, such as a nosebleed, blood in your urine or stools, black or tarry stools, or any bleeding that will not stop.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: nausea, vomiting, sweating, hives, itching, trouble breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, or feeling like you might pass out..
Some people receiving a heparin injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel nauseated, light-headed, sweaty, or short of breath during or after a heparin injection.
Stop using heparin and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
- sudden severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
- chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, fast heart rate;
- pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs;
- trouble breathing;
- (in an infant) extreme drowsiness, weakness, or gasping for breath; or
- fever, chills, runny nose, or watery eyes.
Less serious side effects may include:
- mild pain, redness, warmth, or skin changes where the medicine was injected;
- mild itching of your feet; or
- bluish-colored skin.
Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Heparin (Heparin)
What is Patient Information Overview?
A concise overview of the drug for the patient or caregiver from First DataBank.
Heparin Overview - Patient Information: Side Effects
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: swelling at injection site, bone pain, easily broken bones.
This medication can cause bleeding if its effect on your clotting proteins is too much. Tell your doctor right away if you develop any signs of serious bleeding, including unusual pain/swelling/discomfort, prolonged bleeding from cuts or gums, persistent nosebleeds, unusually heavy/prolonged menstrual periods, unusual/easy bruising, dark urine, black stools, severe headache, unusual dizziness.
Some patients can have certain bad reactions to heparin (heparin-induced thrombocytopenia-HIT or heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and thrombosis-HITT). This can occur during treatment and up to several weeks after treatment with heparin has stopped.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: pain/loss of feeling in the arms/legs, change in color of the arms/legs, chest pain, trouble breathing, confusion, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, vision changes.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Read the entire patient information overview for Heparin (Heparin)
What is Prescribing information?
The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.
Heparin FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
Hemorrhage is the chief complication that may result from heparin therapy (see WARNINGS). An overly prolonged clotting time or minor bleeding during therapy can usually be controlled by withdrawing the drug (see OVERDOSAGE). It should be appreciated that gastrointestinal or urinary tract bleeding during anticoagulant therapy may indicate the presence of an underlying occult lesion. Bleeding can occur at any site but certain specific hemorrhagic complications may be difficult to detect:
- Adrenal hemorrhage, with resultant acute adrenal insufficiency, has occurred during anticoagulant therapy. Therefore, such treatment should be discontinued in patients who develop signs and symptoms of acute adrenal hemorrhage and insufficiency. Initiation of corrective therapy should not depend on laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis since any delay in an acute situation may result in the patient's death.
- Ovarian (corpus luteum) hemorrhage developed in a number of women of reproductive age receiving short- or long-term anticoagulant therapy. This complication if unrecognized may be fatal.
- Retroperitoneal hemorrhage.
Generalized hypersensitivity reactions have been reported with chills, fever, and urticaria as the most usual manifestations, and asthma, rhinitis, lacrimation, headache, nausea and vomiting and anaphylactoid reactions, including shock, occurring more rarely. Itching and burning, especially on the plantar site of the feet may occur.
Thrombocytopenia has been reported to occur in patients receiving heparin with a reported incidence of 0 to 30%. While often mild and of no obvious clinical significance, such thrombocytopenia can be accompanied by severe thromboembolic complications such as skin necrosis, gangrene of the extremities that may lead to amputation, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, stroke and possibly death. (See WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS.)
Certain episodes of painful, ischemic and cyanosed limbs have in the past been attributed to allergic vasospastic reactions. Whether these are in fact identical to the thrombocytopenia associated complications remains to be determined.
Osteoporosis following long-term administration of high doses of heparin, cutaneous necrosis after systemic administration, suppression of aldosterone synthesis, delayed transient alopecia, priapism and rebound hyperlipemia on discontinuation of heparin sodium have also been reported.
Significant elevations of aminotransferase (SGOT [S-AST] and SGPT [S-ALT]) levels have occurred in a high percentage of patients (and healthy subjects) who have received heparin.
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Heparin (Heparin)
Additional Heparin Information
Heparin - User Reviews
Heparin User Reviews
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