What Is Heparin?
Heparin is mainly used to treat anyone condition in which the person has blood clots, or is at risk of forming a blood clot. The main medical conditions in which heparin is used include deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. It can also be used to treat the reaction to blood transfusions, prevent clotting during heart surgery, and during dialysis.
Deep vein thrombosis occurs when the decreased rate of blood flow forms a blood clot within the legs and pelvis. Deep vein thrombosis can result from many diseases such as cancer, heart failure, or stroke. It can result in swelling in the area around the clot, but also accompanied by pain and redness.
Pulmonary embolism is a condition in which a clot that has found in another area such as the leg becomes dislodged from the vessel and travels to the lungs. This is a medical emergency as the embolism becomes trapped in the lungs, and oxygen exchange is hampered. The person will have signs and symptoms of difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, coughing, chest pain, and in severe cases sudden death.
The heparin assay test is used to determine the concentration of heparin currently within the body’s circulation. When heparin is used to treat someone with deep vein thrombosis who has kidney failure, it will be necessary to assay these concentrations to determine if an effective dose is reaching the tissues.