Heparin is an anticoagulant medication that functions to activate antithrombin III and subsequently decrease the effects of factors IIa (thombin) and Xa. It is used to treat and prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism and is also used as part of the treatment of myocardial infarction and unstable angina. Prothromboplastin time is followed to monitor heparin's effects. Some adverse effects include bleeding, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, osteoporosis, and drug-drug interactions. Protamine sulfate is used for rapid reversal during periods of heparin toxicity. Low-molecular-weight heparins (eg, enoxaparin, dalteparin) and fondaparinux act more on factor Xa, have better bioavailability, and 2–4 times longer half-life. They can also be administered subcutaneously and not need to be monitored using laboratory values, however, they are not easily reversible.
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