Heparin is classified as an anticoagulant, and routinely referred to as a blood thinner. Actually, it really doesn’t thin your blood.
Heparin is used to prevent clots or stop clot growth, but it doesn’t decrease the size of existing clots. It is used to treat or reduce the risk of certain blood vessel, heart and lung conditions, such as:
Heparin anticoagulant works faster than warfarin. Thus, it may only be used initially until warfarin kicks in.
Heparin is not a “blood thinning” pill you pop, but this anticoagulant is administered via a shot in one of your veins or under your skin. And you’ll likely bleed and bruise more easily while you’re on it.
Heparin has the potential to cause a broad range of side effects, from bleeding to bruising to hair loss. Several of heparin’s side effects are considered serious, so contact your health care professional pronto if you experience:
- puffy eyes
- teary eyes
- runny nose
- vomit blood
- walking issues
- bleeding gums
- vision changes
- undue sweating
- severe headache
- black, tarry stools
- nausea & vomiting
- coughing up blood
- breathing problems
- shortness of breath
- excessive tiredness
- multiple nosebleeds
- swallowing difficulties
- back pain, backaches
- abdominal pain, swelling
- unusual bruising, bleeding
- purplish skin discoloration
- joint pain, stiffness, swelling
- loss of balance, coordination
- stools contain bright red blood
- bottom of feet itching & burning
- numbness, tingling in hands, feet
- lightheadedness, fainting, dizziness
- difficulty speaking, understanding speech
- chest pain, pressure, squeezing, tightness
- arms, shoulder, jaw, neck, back discomfort
- injection site irritation, pain, redness, ulcers
- facial, arm, leg weakness, especially one sided
- unusually, heavy, unexpected menstrual bleeding
Can’t be said that heparin isn’t prescribed without one long list of potential side effects. But since it is often given in a hospital setting, those folks in white should aid in keeping a “bleeding bruise” watch!
One other heparin burden is heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Ordinarily, heparin prevents clotting and does not affect your blood platelets. In some rare cases, the immune system triggers a response that may cause new blood clots.
In close, if you happen to be one of those select few injecting heparin at home, keep your health care provider’s phone number at the ready. And call it whenever your health is in doubt. For this loss of hair causer is not a “take it and forget it” med.