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Crit Care Med. 2009 Apr;37(4):1185-96. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31819c06bc.

Unfractioned heparin for treatment of sepsis: A randomized clinical trial (The HETRASE Study).

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Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia.



The primary aims of this study were to determine the effects of heparin on length of stay and change from baseline multiple organ dysfunction (MOD) score. Secondary objectives were to estimate the effects of heparin on 28-day all-cause mortality, and to determine the possible effect modification on 28-day all-cause mortality, in subgroups defined by site of infection and baseline values of Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, MOD score, and d-dimer.


Randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled, single-center clinical trial, testing low dose continuous infusion of unfractioned heparin (UFH) as complementary treatment for sepsis.


Five hundred fifty bed University Hospital and referral center in Medellín, Columbia.


Three hundred nineteen patients admitted at the emergency room with signs indicative of sepsis.


Patients were randomly assigned to receive placebo or UFH (500 units/hour for 7 days).


The median length of stay in patients discharged alive in the placebo group was 12.5 days (interquartile range = 8-20), and 12 days (interquartile range = 8-19.5) in the heparin group (p = 0.976). The MOD score improved equally in the two treatments arms with an average decline of 0.13 and 0.11 per day for the placebo and heparin groups (p = 0.240), respectively. The overall 28-day mortality was 16% in the placebo group and 14% in the heparin group (p = 0.652). Subgroup analyses did not show any statistically significant reduction in 28-day mortality with UFH. There was only one serious adverse event on a patient who received heparin but it was fully resolved without complications.


Our findings suggested that UFH may be a feasible and safe intervention in sepsis. However, this study was not able to demonstrate a beneficial effect on the chosen primary outcomes or in the 28-day mortality rate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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