Platelets are a special type of blood cell. They help form clots so that you do not bleed too much. Heparin is a blood-thinning medication that decreases clotting.
Thrombocytopenia means low blood platelet count. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia is low blood platelet count caused by heparin. This condition can lead to a lot of bleeding. In some cases, it can also develop into excessive blood clotting.
Taking heparin is a risk factor for developing this condition.
Tell your doctor if you are taking heparin.
Symptoms of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia include:
Also, let your doctor know if you have past blood tests showing a low blood platelet count.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with ultrasound.
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Heart Association
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Arepally G, Ortel T. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. N Engl J Med. 2006. 355;8: 809-17. Available at: http://enotes.tripod.com/thrombocytopenia_heparin2006.pdf. Accessed August 9, 2013.
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated April 9, 2013. Accessed August 9, 2013.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Igor Puzanov, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.