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Heparin Antibodies May Put Patients At Risk

Patients developing antibodies to heparin, an anti-clotting drug, run the risk of either serious complications after undergoing a heart surgery, or death, according to a new research // . The Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center’s professor of anesthesiology Thomas Slaughter said that the study aimed at finding out if an independent risk is posed by the development of heparin antibodies prior to the surgery.

Heparin is used in several procedures like heart catheterization or angioplasty, kidney dialysis, in addition to heart and vascular surgeries. Antibodies are developed in as many as 50% of the patients who are treated with heparin, the effect of which may even last for several months. The researchers are of the opinion that blood components are activated which cause inflammation and clotting in the case of subsequent treatment on patients who already carry heparin antibodies.

This will also lead to increased risks of strokes, heart rhythm problems, heart attacks, and other complications. The heparin antibody levels in the patients were studied by the researchers, before surgery, who came to the conclusion that the risk of hospitalization or death was twofold in the case of patients with the antibodies.

The Parsonnet risk score, a standardized risk scoring system was also used by the research scientists to ensure that the results of the study were not influenced by the baseline health status of the patients. The heparin antibodies were found in 13% of the patients who were to undergo surgery in the US.

Heparin can be easily be replaced by many other anti-clotting medications, but the Food and Drug Administration of the country will have to approve of them before they can be used. Patients may also postpone the surgery until the antibody levels in their bodies have subsided, which may at times take months together, and may not be practical if the patient concerned requires surgery immediately.


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