Heparin belongs to the drug class of anticoagulants - including substances that inhibit blood clotting. Due to this effect, the active ingredient is used for the prevention and therapy of thrombosis, but also for the treatment of bruising. Depending on the treatment goal, it is either applied in the form of ointments and gels or sprayed as a solution. Like any other drug, heparin has side effects, but the substance is generally considered to be well tolerated.
Effect of heparin
Heparin in our body ensures that blood clotting is inhibited. This is done primarily by the fact that the active ingredient binds to the enzyme antithrombin III. Together, the two substances switch off activated blood clotting factors in the blood. In addition, it also binds calcium ions - the lower their concentration in the blood, the harder the blood coagulates.
Because of its anticoagulant effect, heparin is used primarily for the prevention of embolism and thrombosis. It is also often used in existing thromboses for treatment. In addition, the active ingredient is also used in other situations:
- For the treatment of a heart attack or angina pectoris
- Together with zinc to fight herpes viruses
- In medical practices and hospitals, to prevent the clotting of blood samples
Externally, heparin is used to treat superficial phlebitis and to reduce swelling in bruises and bruises. In swelling, the active ingredient promotes blood circulation and thus the return of the blood to the heart. This reduces the accumulation of water in the adjacent vessels and reduces the swelling. In addition, heparin may also cause blood clots to dissolve in the vessels immediately under the skin.
Heparin in ointments and creams
Heparin is available in various dosage forms: The active ingredient is found in ointments and gels, but there are also heparin solutions that need to be injected by syringe. In ointments and creams, the active ingredient is usually used to treat bruises and bruises. Unless otherwise prescribed, the ointments should be used externally two to three times a day. When applying, care should be taken that the ointment does not reach open wounds, inflamed areas of the skin or the mucous membranes.
For example, heparin injections are used after surgery to reduce the risk of thrombosis. Those who are limited in their mobility over an extended period of time after an operation often have to inject themselves with heparin themselves after the hospitalization has ended. The drug can either be injected into a venous blood vessel or into the subcutaneous fatty tissue - ask your doctor about the possibilities for your drug.
Pay attention to contraindications
While heparin in ointments and creams, with a few exceptions, which you can see from the package leaflet of your medication, can safely be used externally, there are some contraindications to the use of injection solutions. Thus, the drug should not be injected if there is a thrombocytopenia - a platelet deficiency - type II or severe hypertension. In addition, however, it may not be used in some other cases:
- Suspected cerebral hemorrhage
- Immediately after a termination of pregnancy
- Together with anesthetic injections into the spinal cord and punctures of the spinal cord
- In ureteral and kidney stones
- With alcohol abuse
Generally, heparin must be used with extreme caution and after consultation with a physician for any disease associated with increased bleeding. Patients who have a damaged kidney or liver should be monitored regularly by the attending physician during treatment.
If other anticoagulants are used during treatment with heparin, for example, other anticoagulants or agents such as acetylsalicylic acid, bleeding tendency may increase. If the active ingredient is taken together with propranolol, an increase in the effect of the beta-blocker may be the result.
When taken together with certain other medications, it may also lead to a weakening of the heparin effect. These drugs include certain allergy medications (H1 antihistamines), antibiotics (tetracyclines) and cardiotonic (cardiac glycosides). Nicotine and vitamin C can also have such an effect.
For a detailed list of the interactions with other drugs, please refer to the packing list of your medication.
Heparin in pregnancy and lactation
Heparin can be used during pregnancy as well as during breastfeeding because it is not placental and does not pass into breast milk. If the active ingredient is used internally for several months during pregnancy, however, this may increase the risk of osteoporosis. In addition, it can not be ruled out that internal use increases the likelihood of miscarriage or stillbirth. In contrast, heparin can be safely used during breastfeeding.
If heparin is applied externally, the above risks do not exist. At a very high dosage of the active ingredient, however, the tendency to bleed may increase as a result. In such cases, epidural anesthesia is not possible during birth.