Low molecular weight heparins and heparinoids.
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Several low molecular weight (LMW) heparin preparations, including dalteparin, enoxaparin and nadroparin, as well as the heparinoid danaparoid sodium, are approved for use in Australia. LMW heparins are replacing unfractionated heparin for the prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolism and the treatment of non-ST-segment-elevation acute coronary syndromes. The advantages of LMW heparins over unfractionated heparin include a longer half-life (allowing once-daily or twice-daily subcutaneous dosing), high bioavailability and predictable anticoagulant response (avoiding the need for dose adjustment or laboratory monitoring in most patients), and a low risk of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and osteoporosis. Laboratory monitoring of LMW heparin therapy should be considered in newborns and children, patients with renal impairment, those who are pregnant, and those at the extremes of bodyweight (eg, < 40 kg or > 100 kg). LMW heparins should: be avoided or used with caution in patients undergoing neuraxial anaesthesia, owing to the potential for epidural haematoma formation; not be used (ie, are contraindicated) in patients with immune heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, as they may cross-react with anti-heparin antibodies. Conventional unfractionated heparin retains a role in the management of patients at high risk of bleeding, undergoing invasive procedures, and patients with renal failure owing to its shorter half-life, reversibility with protamine sulfate, and extrarenal metabolism. The heparinoid danaparoid sodium is effective for the treatment of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.
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