Prevalence of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in patients undergoing cardiac catheterization

Shi Yin Foo, Brendan M. Everett, Robert W. Yeh, David Criss, Michael Laposata, Elizabeth M. Van Cott, Ik Kyung Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Heparin is ubiquitously used in cardiac catheterization but predisposes to the development of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. The objective was to examine prospectively the prevalence of anti-platelet factor 4 (PF4)/heparin antibodies and heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in the population undergoing cardiac catheterization. Methods: This is a prospective study of 500 consecutive patients presenting for cardiac catheterization at our institution who were enrolled over the course of 1 year. Anti-PF4/heparin antibodies and concurrent platelet counts were measured at catheterization and 5 days thereafter. Thrombotic complications were assessed 30 days after the procedure via telephone interview. All patients presenting for cardiac catheterization at our institution were screened. Inclusion criteria were (a) males and nonpregnant females with age >18 years and (b) patients scheduled to undergo cardiac catheterization. Patients with a known history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, with documented bleeding or hypercoagulability, and those at high risk for bleeding were excluded. Results: Of 500 patients, 15 (3%) had anti-PF4/heparin antibodies before catheterization. After catheterization, the prevalence of anti-PF4/heparin antibodies increased to 10.1% (36 of 357) of the patients. Overall rates of thrombotic complications were low (4 of 445, 0.9%) and did not correlate with anti-PF4/heparin antibody status. Patients with an initial positive test for anti-PF4/heparin antibodies were more likely to have prior coronary disease (73.3% vs 45.2%; P < .05). Patients who developed anti-PF4/heparin antibodies after catheterization were more likely to have increased length of stay (3.7 vs 2.4 days; P = .02). The platelet count at the time of catheterization was lower in the cohort of patients who developed the second positive anti-PF4/heparin antibody test versus patients without a second positive antibody test (mean values of 191,800/μL vs 222,300/μL; P = .008). Conclusions: The prevalence of antibodies to PF4/heparin is low in the population presenting for cardiac catheterization. However, a significant proportion of patients develop antibodies to PF4/heparin after a small exposure to heparin during catheterization. Clinically significant thrombotic complications were rare and did not correlate with antibody status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290.e1-290.e7
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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