Low-molecular-weight heparins in ischemic heart disease

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Purpose of review

The objective of this review was to summarize the recent developments regarding the use of low-molecular-weight heparins in the management of acute coronary syndromes.

Recent findings

In the setting of unstable angina and non–ST-elevation myocardial infarction, enoxaparin is superior to unfractionated heparin in reducing death, myocardial infarction, and recurrent ischemia both in the short-term and to 1 year. However, this does not necessarily imply a class effect of low-molecular-weight heparins in general. When combined with glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, enoxaparin appears to be effective and safe even for patients treated according to an early invasive strategy. In patients receiving fibrinolytics for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, low-molecular-weight heparins are as effective as unfractionated heparin in maintaining patency of the infarct-related artery and in reducing the composite endpoint of death and reinfarction. However, serious bleeding is more common, especially among the elderly, and the optimal dosing regimen in ST-elevation myocardial infarction remains to be defined.


Low-molecular-weight heparins are safe and effective in the management of unstable angina and non–ST-elevation myocardial infarction, with or without concurrent administration of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors. Ongoing studies will clarify the role of low-molecular-weight heparins as adjunctive therapy for fibrinolysis.

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