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Heparin Can Cause Skin Lesions

Date:
September 30, 2009
Source:
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Summary:
Heparin, a commonly used anticoagulant, can cause skin lesions, reports a new study. Skin lesions caused by heparin may indicate the presence of a life-threatening decrease in the number of platelets, a condition called "heparin-induced thrombocytopenia" or, in most cases, a self-limiting, allergic skin reaction.

Heparin, a commonly used anticoagulant, can cause skin lesions, reports a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Skin lesions caused by heparin may indicate the presence of a life-threatening decrease in the number of platelets, a condition called "heparin-induced thrombocytopenia" or a, in most cases self-limiting, allergic skin reaction.

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The study looked at 320 patients undergoing heparin injections over 12 months at The Hospital of The Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Twenty-four patients - 7.5% of the study group - exhibited heparin-induced skin lesions, considerably above the expected rate of 2%.

"During the study, we were surprised by the high number of patients with heparin-induced skin lesions," state Dr. Ralf Ludwig, University of Lubeck, and coauthors. For most patients, the diagnosis was made because of our study."

After clinical examination, they suggested "a delayed-type hypersensitivity response was the most common cause for all the observed lesions," which was confirmed by subsequent allergologic and histologic testing.

Significantly more women had hypersensitivity reactions. Pregnancy, obesity and long duration of current heparin treatment were associated with a delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions.

The authors write that physicians must be aware that skin lesions are a possibility with subcutaneous heparin therapy, and they raise awareness, that the underlying cause of the lesion should be determined.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Medical Association Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Heparin Can Cause Skin Lesions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090928131013.htm>.
Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2009, September 30). Heparin Can Cause Skin Lesions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090928131013.htm
Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Heparin Can Cause Skin Lesions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090928131013.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

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