Unfractionated heparin dosing for therapeutic anticoagulation in critically ill obese adults

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Research evaluating unfractionated heparin (UFH) dosing in obese critically ill populations is limited. This study aimed to determine optimal weight-based and total therapeutic infusion rates of UFH in this population.


This retrospective cohort study compared adults on UFH infusions in intensive care units from May 2011 through October 2013 across 3 weight strata: 95 to 104 kg (control), 105 to 129 kg (high weight), and greater than or equal to 130 kg (higher weight). Primary outcomes included total and weight-based infusion rates for therapeutic anticoagulation.


To achieve therapeutic activated partial thromboplastin times, higher weight patients had higher mean infusion rates compared with control (2017 vs 1582 U/h; P = .002). Mean weight-based therapeutic infusion rate was lower in the higher weight group compared with control (13.1 vs 15.8 U kg−1 h−1; P = .008). Post hoc analyses indicated mean weight-based infusion rate to achieve therapeutic anticoagulation was 15 U kg−1 h−1 in patients less than 165 kg and 13 U kg−1 h−1 in patients greater than 165 kg.


Patients greater than or equal to 130 kg have lower weight-based heparin requirements compared with patients 95 to 104 kg. This difference appears to be driven by patients greater than 165 kg. Patients greater than 165 kg have lower weight-based heparin requirements, whereas patients from 105 to 164 kg have weight-based requirements similar to a normal-weight patient population. Initiating heparin at appropriate weight-based doses for obese patients may optimize anticoagulation.

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