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Dosing practice of low molecular weight heparins and its efficacy and safety in cardiovascular inpatients: a retrospective study in a Chinese teaching hospital

Huimin Xu1, Hongwen Cai2, Zhongshu Qian1, Geng Xu3, Xiaofeng Yan1 and Haibin Dai1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacy, Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, 310009, China

2 Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, 310006, China

3 Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, 310009, China

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Citation and License

BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2012, 12:118  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-118

Published: 5 December 2012



Low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs) are safe and effective anticoagulant options for cardiovascular patients when applied as body weight-adjusted doses. However, there are some barriers that make it difficult to implement weight-adjusted doses in clinical practice. Therefore, it is vital to learn the dosing practices of LMWH and its efficacy and safety in clinical practice.


A retrospective study was conducted in cardiovascular inpatients who had received at least one dose of LMWH during a 6-month period. Appropriateness of LMWH dosing was determined and major clinical outcomes (major adverse vascular events and major bleeding) during hospitalization were evaluated.


A total of 376 admissions representing 364 patients received LMWH treatment. Of these, 17.0% (64/376) of admissions did not have body weight records. Of the 312 admissions included for the outcome study, only 34 cases (10.9%) received the recommended doses of LMWH, while 51 cases (16.3%) received mild underdoses, 223 cases (71.5%) received major underdoses and 4 (1.3%) received excess doses. There were 10 major adverse vascular events, which occurred more often in patients receiving excess doses of LMWH than in patients receiving recommended, mild or major underdoses (50%, 2.9%, 2.0% and 2.7%, respectively, P < 0.001). After multivariable analysis, severe renal insufficiency was an independent risk factor for major adverse vascular events [odds ratio (OR), 31.93; 95% confidence interval (CI), 5.99-170.30; P < 0.001]. No major bleeding was recorded.


Underdose of LMWH is commonly used in cardiovascular inpatients, which was suboptimal according to guidelines. Using LMWH at a fixed, low dose for treatment purposes in patients without severe renal insufficiency was not associated with a higher risk of adverse vascular events in the current study, though larger studies with extended follow-ups are required to fully assess the long-term consequences of LMWH underdosing.

Low molecular weight heparin; Dosing practice; Cardiovascular inpatients; Efficacy; Safety