Heparin is an interesting drug with a lot of unique clinical quirks. This drug ultimately inhibits the formation of fibrin. Fibrin is an essential component of a blood clot.
Because heparin has blood thinning effects, it is critical to assess a patient’s bleed risk. Look out for other agents that may increase the risk of bleeding. Examples include; NSAIDs, antiplatelet agents, and other anticoagulants.
One classic test question about heparin that often comes up is the reversal agent. Protamine can be used to help reverse the effects of heparin.
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia is a critical adverse effect to understand. I discuss both subtypes on the podcast and let you know what to look out for.
Rarer side effects of heparin include hyperkalemia and osteoporosis (only with long term use).