Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Elliot J. RothEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_2219


Heparin is a non-oral anticoagulant chemical that is often used to prevent or treat thromboembolic disorders such as stroke, myocardial infarction, peripheral artery disease, venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and others. Unlike the oral anticoagulant warfarin, heparin is administered intravenously or subcutaneously. It also is distinguished from warfarin by its rapid onset of action, usually within minutes.

Current Knowledge

The anticoagulant properties of heparin derive from its ability to bind to a naturally occurring anticoagulant chemical in the body known as antithrombin (AT), enhancing its activity. AT activity, in turn, inactivates thrombin, an important molecule that causes clotting, and another naturally occurring clotting factor. By inactivating thrombin, heparin prevents formation of fibrin and inhibits activation of platelets and other clotting factors that are normally induced by thrombin.

Most adverse consequences of heparin derive from its anticoagulant...

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References and Readings

  1. Brieger, D. B., Mak, K. H., & Kottke-Marchant, E. J. (1998). Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 31, 1449–1459.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hirsh, J., Anand, S. S., Halperin, J. L., & Fuster, V. (2001a). Guide to anticoagulant therapy: Heparin. A statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 103, 2994–3018.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hirsh, J., Anand, S. S., Halperin, J. L., & Fuster, V. (2001b). Mechanism of action and pharmacology of unfractionated heparin. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, Vascular Biology, 21, 1094.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA