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Heparin (Hep-Lock )

What is the Generic Name for Hep-Lock?


What is the Trade Name for Heparin?


What are the Indications of Heparin (Hep-Lock )?

  • Venous thromboembolism prophylaxis and treatment
  • Low dose used to ensure patency of IV catheters

What are the Actions of Heparin (Hep-Lock )?

Increases the inhibitory effect of antithrombin on factor Xa

What is the Therapeutic Class of Heparin (Hep-Lock )?


What is the Pharmacologic Class of Heparin (Hep-Lock )?


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Podcast Transcription

It would be impossible to work in a hospital without giving Heparin. Heparin is something you’re going to see possibly daily, possibly multiple times a day or per shift. Let’s talk very briefly about what Heparin is, how it works, and why we give it. Surely, you’ve given this already in your clinicals. You’ve already given this on the floor. You already know a little bit about it. Heparin’s generic name is Heparin obviously. Some of the trade names are going to be like Hep-Lock. They’re used for IV patency. It belongs to a group of medications whose job is to anticoagulate and antithrombotic. Basically, indication for heparin is going to be VTE prophylaxis, venous thromboembolism, and treatment. Low doses can be used to ensure patency of IV catheters. Let’s talk about that really quickly.


Venous thromboembolism, of course, is when we develop those clots in our deep veins. When those clots break up, they can travel through the circulation, get lodged in the pulmonary system, get lodged in the heart, go up to the brain and cause stroke, cause heart attack, cause pulmonary embolism, and multiple life-threatening issues. It’s very important to prevent these VTEs. One thing we use to do that is we use Heparin, usually given Q 8 hours, or we’ll use Enoxiparin or something like that. Also, to ensure that we don’t develop clots in our IV catheters or in our central lines, we can do low-dose Heparin and Hep-Lock these IVs to make sure that they maintain patency.


How does it work? We know basically what it does, but how does it work? Basically, what it does is it increases the inhibitory effect of antithrombin on factor Xa. We know we have our big clotting cascade right? Part of that clotting cascade you know one factor initiates the effects of another factor until we develop clots. Okay, we have Thermalin, we have Fibrin, Fibrinogen, we have all of these things that develop clots and cause clots to form. What Heparin actually does is it increases the inhibitory effects of Antithrombin on mostly factor Xa. What that then does is it inhibits this clotting cascade and it prevents the blood from being able to clot as quickly.


What you’ll do if you do place a patient on like a Heparin drip or something like that is you’re going to monitor their APTTs and you’re going to monitor their bleeding times basically is what that is. You’re going to try to get them into a therapeutic range on the Heparin to help to prevent the complications of clots. Therapeutic class is anticoagulant, pharmacologic class is antithrombotic. Some of the nursing considerations are obviously going to monitor for sign of bleeding. Obviously our patient, as we increase their bleeding times there’s a big risk that they could then bleed. We’re going to monitor our platelet count. We want to make sure that the patient has platelets and has the ability to clot. Also we’re going to want to monitor the potassium.


Heparin can actually lead to Hyperkalemia so we’re going to want to monitor their potassium to make sure that it’s within appropriate ranges. We should then also teach the patient signs of bleeding. You know the petechia, any foul smelling stools or any black stools, frequent bloody noses. Things like that that we need to teach them about these signs and we need to be as nurses, we need to be vigilant to assess for these signs of bleeding in our patient and make sure that they aren’t developing any hidden bleeding that we’re unaware of. Those are kind of the big things with Heparin. Definitely medication you need to know, be aware of. Biggest things you need to watch for are going to be just bleeding with this


Generally, it’s given every 8 hours, that’s about the half life and that’s about when we need to give it to make sure that they maintain these appropriate levels. We have a patient come in with a heart attack or with a clot. What you’ll generally do in the hospital is we’ll get them on Heparin, monitor their APPTs, get their bleeding times to an appropriate range and then we’ll send them home on Coumadin, which will be the oral medication that they can take at home to help maintain their bleeding times where they need to be. Those are kind of some of the big things you need to know and that will kind of get you through everything you need to know about Heparin.


Date Published - Jun 17, 2015
Date Modified - Jun 10, 2016

Jon Haws RN

Written by Jon Haws RN

Jon Haws RN began his nursing career at a Level I Trauma ICU in DFW working as a code team nurse, charge nurse, and preceptor. Frustrated with the nursing education process, Jon started NRSNG in 2014 with a desire to provide tools and confidence to nursing students around the globe. When he's not busting out content for NRSNG, Jon enjoys spending time with his two kids and wife.