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New heparin dosing recommendations for patients with acute coronary syndromes

      Abstract

      Despite major innovations in antithrombotic and antiplatelet therapy, unfractionated intravenous heparin is widely used to treat acute coronary syndromes. Recommendations for unfractionated heparin dosing in acute myocardial infarction and unstable angina have been issued in two recent American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines. An initial heparin bolus of 60 U/kg (maximum, 4000 U) followed by a 12-U/kg/h infusion (maximum 1000 U/h) is recommended with alteplase for ST-elevation myocardial infarction. When intravenous heparin is administered for myocardial infarction with non-ST elevation and unstable angina, an initial bolus of 60 to 70 U/kg (maximum, 5000 U) followed by a 12- to 15-U/kg/h infusion is recommended. The goal is to achieve an activated partial thromboplastin time of 50 to 70 seconds. Here, we review these new dosing regimens and explain the rationale for their use. We also review the risk of bleeding with heparin, especially when administered concurrently with aspirin, thrombolytic agents, and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists, and the relationship between activated partial thromboplastin time and cardiac events.
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