heparin (injection)

Pronunciation: HEP a rin

What is the most important information I should know about heparin injection?

Heparin injection should not be used to flush (clean out) an intravenous (IV) catheter. A separate heparin product is available to use as catheter lock flush.

You should not use heparin if you have uncontrolled bleeding or a severe lack of platelets in your blood.

Heparin increases your risk of bleeding, which can be severe or life-threatening. You will need frequent tests to measure your blood-clotting time.

Call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have unusual bleeding or bruising, severe stomach or back pain, unusual tiredness, a nosebleed, blood in your urine or stools, coughing up blood, or any bleeding that will not stop.

What is heparin injection?

Heparin is an anticoagulant (blood thinner) that prevents the formation of blood clots.

Heparin is used to treat and prevent blood clots in the veins, arteries, or lung. Heparin is also used before surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Heparin injection should not be used to flush (clean out) an intravenous (IV) catheter. A separate heparin product is available to use as catheter lock flush.

Heparin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using heparin injection?

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to heparin or pork products, or if you have:

  • a severe lack of platelets in your blood; or
  • uncontrolled bleeding.

To make sure heparin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • an infection of the lining of your heart (also called bacterial endocarditis);
  • uncontrolled high blood pressure;
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
  • a stomach or intestinal disorder;
  • liver disease;
  • if you use a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven) and you have routine "INR" or prothrombin time tests; or
  • if you are having a menstrual period.

It is not known whether heparin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Women over 60 years of age may be more likely to have bleeding episodes while using heparin.

How should I use heparin injection?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Heparin is injected under the skin or into a vein through an IV. You may be shown how to use injections at home. Do not give yourself this medicine if you do not understand how to use the injection and properly dispose of needles, IV tubing, and other items used.

Do not use the medicine if it has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

You may be switched from injectable heparin to an oral (taken by mouth) blood thinner. Do not stop using the heparin until your doctor tells you to. You may need to use both the injection and the oral forms of heparin for a short time.

Use a disposable needle and syringe only once. Follow any state or local laws about throwing away used needles and syringes. Use a puncture-proof "sharps" disposal container (ask your pharmacist where to get one and how to throw it away). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

To be sure this medicine is helping your condition, you may need frequent blood tests. The timing of these tests is very important in helping your doctor determine whether it is safe for you to continue using heparin.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose of heparin.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include easy bruising, nosebleeds, blood in your urine or stools, black or tarry stools, or any bleeding that will not stop.

What should I avoid while using heparin injection?

Ask your doctor before taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain, arthritis, fever, or swelling. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam, and others. Using an NSAID with heparin may cause you to bleed more easily.

What are the possible side effects of heparin injection?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: nausea, vomiting, sweating, hives, itching, trouble breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, or feeling like you might pass out.

Heparin may cause you to bleed more easily, which can be severe or life-threatening. You may also have bleeding on the inside of your body. Seek emergency medical attention if you have:

  • any unusual bleeding or bruising;
  • severe pain in your stomach, lower back, or groin;
  • swelling or bruising in your lower stomach or groin area;
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
  • unusual tiredness;
  • any bleeding that will not stop; or
  • other signs of bleeding, such as a nosebleed, blood in your urine or stools, black or tarry stools, or coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

Heparin can cause you to have bleeding episodes while you are using it and for several weeks after you stop.

Stop using heparin and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • signs of a blood clot --sudden numbness or weakness, severe headache, slurred speech, problems with speech or vision, chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, swelling or warmth in one or both legs;
  • fever, chills, runny nose, or watery eyes;
  • trouble breathing; or
  • (in an infant) extreme drowsiness, weakness, or gasping for breath.

Common side effects may include:

  • mild pain, redness, warmth, or skin changes where the medicine was injected;
  • mild itching of your feet; or
  • bluish-colored skin.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect heparin injection?

Using certain medicines with heparin can cause you to bleed more easily. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about heparin.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2017 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 11.01. Revision date: 5/23/2017.

Your use of the content provided in this service indicates that you have read, understood and agree to the End-User License Agreement, which can be accessed by clicking on this link.