Lutfi F, et al. Cureus 2020.
Intravenous unfractionated heparin (UFH) remains one of the most commonly used anticoagulants in the hospital setting. The optimal protocol for initiation and maintenance of UFH has been difficult to determine. Over the past two decades, weight-based nomogram protocols have gained favor. Herein, we present a retrospective study of 377 patients at a single tertiary academic center treated with low intensity (LI) and standard intensity (SI) UFH protocols for therapeutic anticoagulation. UFH levels are measured by anti-Xa assay activity with therapeutic levels of 0.30 to 0.70 IU/mL for SI and 0.25 to 0.35 IU/mL for LI. Patients treated on the LI protocol were more likely to have had a previous history of bleeding and lower baseline hemoglobin. Incidence of new or worsening thrombus while on UFH was comparable between both protocols (odds ratio (OR) 0.93, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.29-2.98, p=0.899). Patients on LI protocol had higher incidence of bleeding while on UFH (OR 1.21, 95% CI 0.51-2.89, p=0.667). Our study thus suggests that the LI protocol may have comparable efficacy to the SI protocol in treating venous thromboembolism (VTE) and that target anti-Xa levels of 0.25 to 0.35 IU/mL may be more optimal in high-risk patients.