Therapy of unstable angina with the low molecular weight heparins
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Unstable angina is in most cases caused by partial or complete coronary artery occlusion due to the disruption of an atherosclerotic plaque and to thrombus formation. An immediate antithrombotic approach is essential to prevent fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction, and the combination of aspirin and unfractionated heparin has played a pivotal role in the past years. Low molecular weight heparins have improved pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties over unfractionated heparin that have resulted in greater efficacy and safety in the field of venous thromboembolism. Low molecular weight heparins can be administered by once or twice daily subcutaneous injections at fixed, weight-adjusted doses without the need for monitoring. Because of their potential, many recent clinical trials have evaluated their efficacy and safety in the management of patients with unstable angina. Three low molecular weight heparins have so far been tested: nadroparin, dalteparin and enoxaparin. The results of the published trials confirm that the newer compounds are at least as safe and effective as unfractionated heparin, and offer considerable therapeutic advantages. Nevertheless, the different properties of the three compounds and perhaps the different designs of the clinical trials have led to not entirely comparable findings.
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