What is included in the long-term monitoring of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT)?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021
  • Author: Sancar Eke, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Srikanth Nagalla, MD, MS, FACP  more...
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For patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) who have only isolated thrombocytopenia, therapeutic doses of alternative anticoagulants should be continued until the platelet counts recover to a stable plateau. Because the risk of thrombosis remains high for 2-4 weeks after treatment is initiated, consideration should be given to continuing anticoagulant therapy with an alternative agent or warfarin for up to 4 weeks.

For HIT patients with thrombosis, therapy with an alternative anticoagulant should be followed by a transition to warfarin, but only after platelet counts have recovered to above 150 x 109/L. Oral anticoagulants should be initiated at low doses (eg, ≤ 5 mg/day of warfarin), and an overlap with a direct thrombin inhibitor for at least 5 days should be planned until the international normalized ratio (INR) has been in the therapeutic range for at least 48 hours. Anticoagulation is typically continued for 3 months. [58]

For patients with a past history of HIT who no longer have circulating HIT antibodies, the American College of Chest Physicians suggests that short-term (intraoperative only) heparin can be used for cardiac surgery, but recommends bivalirudin or argatroban for cardiac catheterization or percutaneous coronary intervention. Patients with persistent HIT antibodies who require cardiac surgery should not receive heparin.

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