Low molecular weight heparin therapy: is monitoring needed?

Thromb Haemost. 1994 Sep;72(3):330-4.


Recent meta-analyses indicate that low molecular weight heparins (LMWH) are more effective than unfractionated heparin (UH) in preventing and treating deep vein thrombosis. This article presents the arguments for and against the need for laboratory monitoring. At the present time, the only tests currently available for monitoring LMWH therapy are those which measure the anti Xa activity in the plasma. Due to lower binding to plasma proteins and to cell surfaces, the plasma anti Xa activity generated by a given dose of LMWH is more predictable than for UH. Some clinical trials suggest that LMWH delivered at the recommended dose expose the patient to less bleeding risk than UH. Several meta-analyses indicate comparable risk while any overdose unacceptably increases the haemorrhagic risk. The lowest dose of LMWH still effective in treating established DVT is presently unknown; some reports indicate that inadequate doses of LMWH are associated with a lack of efficacy for prevention. An overview of the published clinical trials indicates that the LMWH dose has never been monitored for prevention of DVT. In the treatment of established DVT, several trials have been performed without any monitoring, while in others the dose was adapted to target a given anti Xa activity. These considerations suggest that in prevention of DVT, monitoring the dose is not required.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / administration & dosage
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / adverse effects*
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Partial Thromboplastin Time
  • Platelet Count
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Thrombocytopenia / blood
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced
  • Thrombophlebitis / drug therapy


  • Factor Xa Inhibitors
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight