Argatroban anticoagulation in patients with a history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia
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INTRODUCTION: Heparin therapy is not recommended for patients with a history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), except in specialized situations, because this treatment can lead to severe reactions including thrombocytopenia and thrombosis. However, the optimal management of patients with a history of HIT requiring acute anticoagulation has not yet been clarified because of the lack of prospective studies. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of argatroban, a direct thrombin inhibitor, as an anticoagulant in patients with a history of HIT needing acute anticoagulation. METHODS: Thirty-six patients with a history of serologically confirmed HIT were treated prospectively with argatroban [median (5th-95th percentile) dose of 2.0 (1.0-4.3) microg/kg/min for 4.0 (0.7-8.4) days]. Prospectively defined endpoints included successful anticoagulation (therapeutic activated partial thromboplastin time), and bleeding, new thromboembolic events, or other adverse effects during therapy or within 30 days following its cessation. RESULTS: All patients required acute anticoagulation with the most common admission diagnoses being deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (n=13) and chest pain or acute coronary syndrome (n=12). Eleven patients had previously received argatroban therapy for HIT; one patient underwent two treatment courses of argatroban for a history of HIT. The median (5th-95th percentile) time between the past diagnosis of HIT and initiation of argatroban was 7.5 (0.4-114.6) months. All evaluable patients were successfully anticoagulated. No patient had major bleeding, new thromboembolic events, or other adverse effects. There were no adverse events related to reexposure. CONCLUSIONS: Argatroban can provide safe and effective anticoagulation, on initial or repeat exposure, in patients with a history of HIT.
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