Heparin is a drug that is used exogenously , that is, injected, and that works as an anticoagulant. This is one of the most widely used anticoagulants in the world due to the effectiveness of its chemical composition; and it is used to treat different diseases for which a lower level of blood clotting is required. The diseases that are most commonly treated with heparin are cancer, kidney diseases, lung diseases, and it is also essential for many operations. Here we show you what heparin is for and everything you need to know about this drug.
Chemically speaking, heparin is a molecule whose main compound is a chain of sugars. These sugars are sulfated, or negatively charged; This combination makes it possible for you to influence the proteins that clot the blood. Then, when it enters the bloodstream of the patient, it works as an anticoagulant. It should be noted that taking heparin orally has no effect on the body.
Heparin is important for treating many conditions; and it is even irreplaceable in different surgical procedures. Read on to learn all about heparin.
What is heparin and what is it for?
As we have mentioned, heparin is a drug used to lower blood clotting levels. This is strictly necessary to treat different diseases; and in many cases it is necessary in surgeries of all kinds. Heparin is an anticoagulant , which we could also define as a blood thinning agent.
This medicine works to prevent blood clots from growing in the bloodstream. Coagulation is a fairly common problem that occurs in many patients with different diagnoses; so heparin is widely used in health centers. Heparin can be used to prevent clots already formed from continuing to grow ; however, this drug is unable to remove clots that have already formed. Also, small amounts of this drug are commonly used to prevent clots that usually form when a catheter is placed.
What is the function of heparin?
The function of heparin is really important medicine to treat different diseases. Heparin is essential for performing surgical procedures . For example, open heart surgeries could only be possible thanks to heparin. Many diseases tend to create clots or thrombosis, so heparin is used to prevent this.
There are three types of heparin, and each has a different function. Unfractionated heparin is used only under medical supervision in health centers; this is the one that is injected to patients who will undergo operations. Low molecular weight heparin is prescribed for patients whose diagnoses do not require their stay in the health center; so this can be provided without medical supervision. Finally, there is heparin sodium, which in some cases can be injected and also exists in the form of an ointment.
What is sodium heparin?
We have already mentioned what heparin is for, but what is the difference and what is sodium heparin for? Sodium heparin is technically the same as unfractionated heparin. It is called this way because it includes sodium as an added molecule; which makes it can be used in other diagnoses. You can find sodium heparin in two forms, injected and as an ointment; both must be prescribed by a doctor and should never be used without a prescription.
Heparin sodium gel or ointment is used topically to treat skin lesions . Like the injectable presentation, it is used to prevent the formation of clots in the bloodstream. It is together with this characteristic that makes heparin sodium gel very useful for treating scars and other injuries.
What is sodium heparin used for?
When you are in the presence of a wound (post-operative sutures, for example) it is important to keep the area hydrated so that the tissue heals correctly. This is what sodium heparin ointment does, keeping blood flow constant in the wound or scar so that the tissue can regenerate properly. So heparin sodium gel works as a topical anticoagulant and vasodilator .
What is heparin for in pregnancy?
This anticoagulant is the most used in pregnancies, since there are few contraindications that it can have in the mother or the baby. In many cases, heparin is used, sometimes alone or in combination with aspirin, to prevent miscarriages. This anticoagulant helps the blood flow to be constant in the fetus and thus avoid abortion. In women with high-risk pregnancies, this drug is used in moderate doses to maintain healthy blood flow in the uterus.
Heparin is used as an anticoagulant for caesarean sections or surgical procedures during pregnancy. Likewise, the gel presentation can be used on cesarean section scars.
However, there are some risks of using heparin in pregnancy. These can be mainly bleeding or excessive bleeding. Consult your doctor for contraindications before using the drug.
What is heparin used for in dialysis?
This medicine is widely used to treat hemodialysis patients. Hemodialysis is a process practiced in patients with kidney failure; in this the blood is filtered using a machine. Usually patients should have one or two hemodialysis sessions a week. This is why it is absolutely necessary to avoid clotting. And at the same time it is used to prevent the formation of clots in the catheter.
Contraindications of heparin
Like most medications, heparin can have contraindications. It is important to note that this medication should be prescribed by your doctor, and never exceed the indicated dose.
If you are on heparin treatment and notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
- Nasal bleeding
- Presence of blood in urine or stool
- Bruising for no reason
- He retched
- Fever and malaise
In case of using sodium heparin in its topical version, it is important not to apply the ointment on open or infected wounds. Nor should heparin sodium be applied to the eyes or nose.
Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.