1. Swanson, Joseph M. PharmD, BCPS


Unfractionated heparin is widely used for numerous clinical situations. A well-known adverse effect of heparin exposure is thrombocytopenia. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia is a clinicopathologic syndrome that can be associated with severe complications and significant mortality. The pathophysiology of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia includes an immune-mediated reaction to heparin that activates platelets and results in an acquired hypercoagulability. Diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia should incorporate clinical signs and symptoms and laboratory testing for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia antibodies. Therapy should include discontinuation of heparin, initiation of a direct thrombin inhibitor, and eventually therapy with warfarin (only after the platelet count is at least 100 x 109/L).