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What is Dalteparin?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dalteparin is a type of medication called an anticoagulant, and it thins blood and prevents clots from forming. It is also known by the brand name Fragmin. It is used with patients having surgery, those with certain heart conditions, and to prevent and treat a condition called deep vein thrombosis. Side effects vary and can include redness, soreness, bruising, hard to control bleeding, headaches and more. Patients who are taking dalteparin should avoid activities that might cause bleeding and shouldn't take aspirin.

Dalteparin is actually a low molecular weight heparin, and it works in the same manner as other anticoagulant medications. It thins the blood and prevents clots from forming or getting bigger by blocking the action of enzymes. It doesn't destroy existing clots, however. It is usually administered as an injection under the skin in the stomach area. It's often given to patients by health care professionals in a clinical setting, but patients can be taught to give themselves the injections at home if necessary.

One of the uses for dalteparin treatment is the prevention of a potentially fatal condition called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. This is a blood clot that forms in one of the deep veins of the body, for example in the leg. It can then break away and travels to another place in the body, possibly the heart or lungs where it can be fatal. The drug is given on a short-term basis when patients have surgery like hip replacement, or are bed-bound from a long illness, since periods of inactivity like this are when the danger of DVT is highest.

Dalteparin is also given to prevent blood clots occurring in the lungs, arteries or veins that can occur with certain conditions. Examples of these conditions include when patients are receiving kidney dialysis, and specific cancers. Together with aspirin, it's used in patients with heart conditions such as unstable angina or heart attack to prevent complications affecting the blood vessels. Often patients receiving treatment for these reasons use dalteparin long term.

Dalteparin's blood thinning properties make bleeding difficult to stop or control in many patients, so activities that could lead to injury and bleeding should be avoided while taking it. Aspirin can intensify this effect. A patient with bleeding disorders, low platelet levels, kidney or liver disease, high blood pressure, or recent injuries should discuss these issues with his or her doctor and may need to avoid using this medicine. The patient should inform the doctor of all other medications being taken, to avoid dangerous interactions.

Some common mild side effects are swelling, redness and pain at the site of injection. More serious side effects may include bruising, uncontrollable bleeding, coughing up blood, nausea, fainting, confusion, headache, weakness, and difficulty breathing. All side effects should be reported to a doctor, and some may require dosage adjustment or other changes to the treatment plan.

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