Heparin-induced Thrombocytopenia: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Review of Pharmacotherapy

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Anticoagulants; Antithrombins; Heparin; Humans; Pipecolic Acids; Thrombocytopenia; Thrombosis; Time Factors


Health Services Research | Hemic and Lymphatic Diseases | Primary Care


Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia is an adverse drug reaction to heparin therapy leading to devastating clinical outcomes including venous thromboembolism, myocardial infarction, stroke, and limb amputation. Heparin cessation alone is not sufficient for the management of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Direct thrombin inhibitors, such as argatroban and lepirudin, are considered the mainstay for the management of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Case reports support the use of fondaparinux in the management of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia; however, randomized trials are still lacking. This article will review the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, complications, diagnosis, and pharmacotherapy management of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Kanaan AO, Al-Homsi AS. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia: Pathophysiology, diagnosis and review of pharmacotherapy. J Pharm Pract 2009; 22:149-157. doi: 10.1177/0897190008326445