heparin (Hemochron Hep-Lock)

What is heparin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Heparin is a widely used injectable anticoagulant (stops the formation of blood clots). The blood coagulation system is composed of various steps and heparin acts at multiple sites in this process. Heparin prevents blood clots by blocking the action of two of the 12 clot-promoting proteins in blood (factors X and II) whose action is necessary for blood to clot. The FDA approved heparin in 1939.

What brand names are available for heparin?

Hemochron, Hep-Lock, Hep-Lock U/P, Heparin in 5% Dextrose, Heparin Lock Flush, HepFlush-10

Is heparin available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for heparin?


What are the side effects of heparin?

The most common side effects are hemorrhage (bleeding), thrombocytopenia (decrease platelet count), heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), heparin induced thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (HITT), injection site discomfort/irritation, allergy or hypersensitivity type reactions, and increase in liver enzymes.

What is the dosage for heparin?

Doses vary considerably based on use and desired level of anticoagulation. Consult published guidelines for various uses (myocardial infarction, DVT, pulmonary embolism, for example) and the manufacturer's recommendations as dosage varies; some patients may require dosage adjustments if they have certain conditions (for example, renal or liver problems).

Which drugs or supplements interact with heparin?

Medications that increase the risk of bleeding will add to the effects of heparin and further increase the risk of bleeding that is associated with heparin. Such medications include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), other anticoagulants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin; Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren), and others.


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Is heparin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

Heparin has not been adequately evaluated in pregnant women. Heparin should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Preservative-free heparin is recommended when heparin is needed during pregnancy.

It is not known whether heparin is excreted into breast milk. However, due to its large molecular weight, it is thought that heparin is not likely to be excreted into breast milk. Preservative-free heparin is recommended when heparin is needed during breastfeeding.

What else should I know about heparin?

What preparations of heparin are available?

Injectable Solution: 1000, 2500, 5000, 10000, 20000 units/ml.

Heparin Lock Flush: 10, 100 units/ml.

Premixed Solution: 20000 units/500 ml, 25000 units/250 ml, 25000 units/500 ml.

How should I keep heparin stored?

Heparin sodium injections should be stored at 20 C to 25 C (68 F to 77 F).


Heparin sodium (Hemochron, Hep-Lock, Hep-Lock U/P, Heparin in 5% Dextrose, Heparin Lock Flush, HepFlush-10) is a drug used to stop the formation of blood clots. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, storage, and safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this prescription drug.

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Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine


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