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Heparin (Heparin Sodium) - Side Effects and Adverse Reactions




Hemorrhage is the chief complication that may result from heparin therapy (see WARNINGS ).  An overly prolonged clotting time or minor bleeding during therapy can usually be controlled by withdrawing the drug (see OVERDOSAGE ).  It should be appreciated that gastrointestinal or urinary tract bleeding during anticoagulant therapy may indicate the presence of an underlying occult lesion.  Bleeding can occur at any site but certain specific hemorrhagic complications may be difficult to detect:

(a)  Adrenal hemorrhage, with resultant acute adrenal insufficiency, has occurred during anticoagulant therapy.  Therefore, such treatment should be discontinued in patients who develop signs and symptoms of acute adrenal hemorrhage and insufficiency.  Initiation of corrective therapy should not depend on laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis, since any delay in an acute situation may result in the patient’s death.

(b)  Ovarian (corpus luteum) hemorrhage developed in a number of women of reproductive age receiving short- or long-term anticoagulant therapy.  This complication, if unrecognized, may be fatal.

(c)  Retroperitoneal hemorrhage.

Thrombocytopenia, Heparin-induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT) and Heparin-induced Thrombocytopenia and Thrombosis (HITT) and Delayed Onset of HIT and HITT


Local Irritation

Local irritation, erythema, mild pain, hematoma or ulceration may follow deep subcutaneous (intrafat) injection of heparin sodium.  These complications are much more common after intramuscular use, and such use is not recommended.


Generalized hypersensitivity reactions have been reported, with chills, fever and urticaria as the most usual manifestations, and asthma, rhinitis, lacrimation, headache, nausea and vomiting, and anaphylactoid reactions, including shock, occurring more rarely.  Itching and burning, especially on the plantar side of the feet, may occur (see WARNINGS and   PRECAUTIONS ). 

Certain episodes of painful, ischemic and cyanosed limbs have in the past been attributed to allergic vasospastic reactions.  Whether these are in fact identical to the thrombocytopenia-associated complications, remains to be determined .


Osteoporosis following long-term administration of high doses of heparin, cutaneous necrosis after systemic administration, suppression of aldosterone synthesis, delayed transient alopecia, priapism, and rebound hyperlipemia on discontinuation of heparin sodium have also been reported.

Significant elevations of aminotransferase (SGOT [S-AST] and SGPT [S-ALT]) levels have occurred in a high percentage of patients (and healthy subjects) who have received heparin.


Below is a sample of reports where side effects / adverse reactions may be related to Heparin. The information is not vetted and should not be considered as verified clinical evidence.

Possible Heparin side effects / adverse reactions in 72 year old male

Reported by a health professional (non-physician/pharmacist) from United Kingdom on 2011-10-03

Patient: 72 year old male

Reactions: Confusional State, Dysarthria, Brain Stem Haemorrhage, Unresponsive TO Stimuli, Headache

Adverse event resulted in: death

Suspect drug(s):
    Dosage: 75 mg, unk
    Indication: Aneurysm

    Dosage: 75 mg, qd
    Indication: Aneurysm

    Indication: Thrombosis Prophylaxis

Other drugs received by patient: Antihypertensive Drugs

Possible Heparin side effects / adverse reactions in 45 year old female

Reported by a pharmacist from Canada on 2011-10-04

Patient: 45 year old female

Reactions: Intra-Abdominal Haemorrhage, Prothrombin Level Abnormal, International Normalised Ratio Increased

Adverse event resulted in: life threatening event, hospitalization

Suspect drug(s):
    Dosage: 20ml
    Indication: Product Used FOR Unknown Indication

Lactated Ringers (Lactated Ringers)
    Indication: Product Used FOR Unknown Indication

Sodium Chloride 0.9%
    Indication: Product Used FOR Unknown Indication

Midazolam HCL
    Dosage: 1mg/ml
    Indication: Product Used FOR Unknown Indication

    Dosage: 5000ml
    Indication: Product Used FOR Unknown Indication

Sufentanil Citrate
    Indication: Product Used FOR Unknown Indication

    Dosage: 50 mg
    Indication: Product Used FOR Unknown Indication

Other drugs received by patient: (Calcium Gluconate); (Flagyl /00012501/); (Ancef /00288502/); (All Other Therapeutic Products); Nexium; Voluven; (Dexamethasone); Diovan HCT; Phenylephrine HCL; Plasma

Possible Heparin side effects / adverse reactions in 89 year old male

Reported by a health professional (non-physician/pharmacist) from United States on 2011-10-05

Patient: 89 year old male

Reactions: Atelectasis, Dysphagia, Dyspnoea, Haemoptysis, Foreign Body Aspiration, Delirium, Cough

Suspect drug(s):

See index of all Heparin side effect reports >>

Drug label data at the top of this Page last updated: 2014-07-10

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