Weight adapted low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) treatment is recommended as initial anticoagulant therapy of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, in patients with myocardial ischemia or when oral anticoagulation (OAC) must be interrupted peri- operatively. Traditionally unfractioned heparin (UFH) was used as standard short acting anticoagulant, with the therapy monitored by frequent laboratory testing. Currently LMWH have broadly replaced UFH as first- choice anticoagulant due to more preferable pharmacokinetics and a better safety profile. Therapeutic anticoagulation with LMWH can be achieved by subcutaneous weight adapted application and measurement of anti-factor Xa- activity (anti-Xa) has been established as gold standard for LMWH- monitoring. However, since almost all LMWH dosing regimens have been developed empirically without laboratory monitoring, there is still a debate ongoing about the usefulness and impact of anti-Xa-testing. Data are lacking that prove a clear correlation between obtained levels of anti-Xa and the patients´ clinical outcome. Newer methods have been developed aiming to determine a broader spectrum of LMWH depending anticoagulant activity. Even though there are some promising preliminary results, these alternative methods are not ready for routine clinical use yet. Nevertheless, current guidelines advise determination of anti-Xa in special patient populations with markedly altered LMWH metabolism or to exclude residual LMWH- activity before surgery at very high risk of bleeding. The aim of this article is to review critically the usefulness of anti- Xa guidance of LMWH- therapy and to give new perspectives on upcoming methods of LMWH- monitoring.
Keywords: Anticoagulation, Low Molecular Weight Heparins, vein thrombosis, myocardial ischemia, oral anticoagulation (OAC), unfractioned heparin (UFH), pharmacokinetics, anti-Xa-testing
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