Background: Despite the widespread use of subcutaneous heparin in the initial treatment of deep venous thrombosis, there are no guidelines for achieving adequate anticoagulation with this drug.
Objective: To implement a weight-based algorithm for the administration of subcutaneous unfractionated heparin after an intravenous loading dose.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: University hospital.
Participants: 70 outpatients with proximal venous thrombosis.
Intervention: An intravenous bolus of heparin followed by a subcutaneous injection of heparin in doses adjusted for body weight. Subsequent adjustments of the subcutaneous heparin dose were scheduled twice daily according to the algorithm; the activated partial thromboplastin time (aPT) was measured in the mid-interval (target range, 50 to 90 seconds).
Results: The therapeutic threshold aPT (≥ 50 seconds) was achieved in 61 patients (87%) within 24 hours and in 69 patients (99%) within 48 hours. In 7 patients (10%), a supratherapeutic aPT lasted more than 12 hours. No major bleeding episodes or cases of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia were seen. Three patients (4.3% [95% CI, 0.9% to 12.0%]) had recurrent thromboembolism during 3 months of follow-up.
Conclusion: The administration of subcutaneous heparin according to a weight-based algorithm allows the rapid achievement of effective and safe anticoagulation in patients with deep venous thrombosis.