Papers And Originals

Control of Heparin Therapy

Br Med J 1970; 4 doi: (Published 17 October 1970) Cite this as: Br Med J 1970;4:139
  1. W. R. Pitney,
  2. J. E. Pettit,
  3. Lyn Armstrong


    Heparin therapy in 114 patients was controlled by daily blood tests—the whole blood coagulation time, kaolin-activated partial thromboplastin time of plasma, and plasma heparin assay. Bleeding episodes occurred in 7 out of 92 patients (7·6%) who had normal haemostatic mechanisms before therapy and in 11 out of 22 patients (50%) with defective haemostasis, mostly due to intravascular coagulation or renal failure. The dose of heparin ranged from 20,000 to 60,000 units in each 24-hour period. In some patients bleeding was related to overdosage, but in others the laboratory tests indicated satisfactory or suboptimal dosage at the time of bleeding. Though there were positive correlations between the results of the three tests, these were not close, and no one test was preferable. Hence laboratory control of heparin therapy is unsatisfactory and patients may bleed despite careful control of the dose by all three methods.