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J Thromb Haemost. 2014 Jul;12(7):1044-53. doi: 10.1111/jth.12592. Epub 2014 Jun 19.

Bivalirudin for the treatment of patients with confirmed or suspected heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.

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Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, USA.



Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is an adverse immune-mediated response to unfractionated heparin and, less commonly, low molecular weight heparin. It is associated with a high thrombotic risk and the potential for limb and life-threatening complications. Argatroban is the only approved and currently available anticoagulant for HIT treatment in the USA.


To report safety and efficacy outcomes with bivalirudin for HIT treatment.


We retrospectively examined records from our registry of patients with a suspected, confirmed or previous history of HIT and who had received bivalirudin for anticoagulation in a single tertiary-care center over a 9-year period.


We identified 461 patients who received bivalirudin: 220 (47.7%) were surgical patients, and 241 (52.3%) were medical patients. Of this population, 107 (23.2%) were critically ill, and 109 (23.6%) were dialysis-dependent. Suspected, confirmed and previous history of HIT were reported in 262, 124 and 75 patients, respectively. Of 386 patients with suspected or confirmed HIT, 223 patients (57.8%) had thrombosis at HIT diagnosis. New thrombosis was identified in 21 patients (4.6%) while they were on treatment with therapeutic doses of bivalirudin. No patient required HIT-related amputation. Major bleeding occurred in 35 patients (7.6%). We found a significant increase in major bleeding risk in the critically ill population (13.1%; odds ratio 2.4, 95% confidence interval 1.2-4.9, P = 0.014). The 30-day all-cause mortality rate was 14.5% (67 patients), and eight of 67 (1.7%) deaths were HIT-related.


Bivalirudin may be an effective and safe alternative option for the treatment of both suspected and confirmed HIT, and appears to reduce the rate of HIT-related amputation.


amputation; antithrombins; death; heparin; thrombocytopenia; thrombosis

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