Low-molecular-weight heparins in ischemic heart disease

Curr Opin Cardiol. 2004 Jul;19(4):309-16. doi: 10.1097/01.hco.0000129665.55707.f6.


Purpose of review: The objective of this review was to summarize the recent developments regarding the use of low-molecular-weight heparins in the management of acute coronary syndromes.

Recent findings: In the setting of unstable angina and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction, enoxaparin is superior to unfractionated heparin in reducing death, myocardial infarction, and recurrent ischemia both in the short-term and to 1 year. However, this does not necessarily imply a class effect of low-molecular-weight heparins in general. When combined with glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, enoxaparin appears to be effective and safe even for patients treated according to an early invasive strategy. In patients receiving fibrinolytics for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, low-molecular-weight heparins are as effective as unfractionated heparin in maintaining patency of the infarct-related artery and in reducing the composite endpoint of death and reinfarction. However, serious bleeding is more common, especially among the elderly, and the optimal dosing regimen in ST-elevation myocardial infarction remains to be defined.

Summary: Low-molecular-weight heparins are safe and effective in the management of unstable angina and non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction, with or without concurrent administration of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors. Ongoing studies will clarify the role of low-molecular-weight heparins as adjunctive therapy for fibrinolysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angina, Unstable / drug therapy
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary
  • Electrocardiography
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex