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Abstract: FR-PO757

Safety and Efficacy of Heparin During Dialysis in the Context of Systemic Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet Medications

Session Information

Category: Dialysis

  • 701 Dialysis: Hemodialysis and Frequent Dialysis


  • Brunelli, Steven M., DaVita Clinical Research, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
  • Cohen, Dena E., DaVita Clinical Research, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
  • Marlowe, Gilbert, DaVita Clinical Research, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
  • Liu, Daniel, DaVita Institute for Patient Safety, Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Njord, Levi, DaVita Institute for Patient Safety, Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Van Wyck, David B., DaVita Institute for Patient Safety, Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Aronoff, George R., DaVita Kidney Care, Denver, Colorado, United States

Heparin is widely used to prevent coagulation during hemodialysis (HD). Although systemic anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents are commonly prescribed in the HD population, the safety and efficacy of heparin in the presence versus absence of these medications is unclear.


This retrospective, longitudinal, time-updated cohort study considered adult patients receiving in-center HD (Aug 2015 – Jul 2017). Study data were derived from deidentified patient electronic health records. For each calendar month, patients were ascribed a 3-part exposure status (use of heparin, systemic anticoagulant, systemic antiplatelet agent). Outcomes included anemia measures, peri-treatment bleeding and clotting, and hospitalization for gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. Within each systemic medication exposure category, associations of heparin use (vs. non-use) were examined using adjusted general linear, negative binomial, or Poisson models.


Across all systemic medication exposures, heparin use (vs. non-use) was associated with significantly lower erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA) dose and higher hemoglobin values; slightly lower intravenous (IV) iron dose; and similar serum ferritin and transferrin saturation. Heparin use was also associated with lower rates of clotting during treatment. Heparin use was not associated with excess risk of hospitalization for GI bleeding, or with peri-treatment bleeding episodes. Associations with respect to ESA, IV iron, hemoglobin, and clotting were approximately 2-fold more potent in the absence of a systemic anticoagulant; the presence of a systemic antiplatelet agent did not impact these associations. Neither systemic medication type influenced associations between heparin use and peri-treatment or GI bleeding.


Heparin use was safe and effective regardless of systemic anticoagulant and antiplatelet agent status. Clinical judgment must be applied to assess bleeding risk in individual patients; however, the decision to withhold heparin should not solely be based upon the concurrent use of systemic anticoagulant or antiplatelet agents.


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