Using low molecular weight heparin in special patient populations
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Clinical trials evaluating low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) for the prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolism and acute coronary syndromes have led to their regulatory approval for these indications in the general population. However, certain patient populations have been excluded from these landmark clinical trials, including patients with renal insufficiency, obese patients and pregnant women. In these special populations, data on safety and efficacy is limited and typically based on pharmacokinetic studies often performed in healthy subjects, or small cohort studies which are generally not powered to evaluate clinical outcomes such as bleeding or recurrent thrombosis. Because LMWH is mainly cleared renally, patients with severe renal insufficiency are at risk of LMWH accumulation and increased bleeding risks. In obese patients, there is concern regarding possible overdosing of therapeutic dose LMWH, since LMWH does not distribute in fat tissue. There are also concerns about possible underdosing of prophylactic dose LMWH in obese individuals using the standard fixed doses, particularly in the extremely obese individuals undergoing bariatric surgery. Last, pregnancy poses challenges with regards to the safety of LMWH during pregnancy and use of LMWH around delivery. This review summarizes the existing data in these special populations and proposes general recommendations for practice.
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