What is the prevalence of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) in the US?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021
  • Author: Sancar Eke, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Srikanth Nagalla, MD, MS, FACP  more...
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In the United States, approximately 12 million individuals, or one third of hospitalized patients, have some heparin exposure yearly. A study by Smythe and colleagues estimated the frequency of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) to be 0.76% in patients receiving therapeutic doses of intravenous unfractionated heparin (UFH) and less than 0.1% in patients receiving antithrombotic prophylaxis with subcutaneous UFH, with an overall risk of HIT of about 0.2% in all heparin-exposed patients. [21]

Other studies in the literature quote frequencies as high as 1-5%. [22, 23, 24] High frequencies of HIT are especially common in surgical patients receiving prolonged postoperative thromboprophylaxis (eg, for 10-14 days following orthopedic surgery [25] or after coronary artery bypass and/or valve replacement surgery [21] ).

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