Safety and Effectiveness of an Anti-Xa-based Unfractionated Heparin Protocol for Impella Percutaneous Ventricular Assist Devices

Sarah Emma Berman, Lauren Lozano, Amanda Kitten, Kathleen Lusk, Crystal Franco-Martinez, Stephanie Hopper, Anand Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Impella devices are used for mechanical circulatory support in patients with cardiogenic shock or those undergoing high-risk percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Anticoagulation protocols in this population are not well established and are complicated by concomitant use of purge solutions containing unfractionated heparin (UFH) and intravenous UFH continuous infusion (CI) for systemic anticoagulation. Objectives: To evaluate thrombotic and bleeding complications when using a novel UFH protocol with a reduced initial UFH CI dose of 6 units/kg/hour targeting an anti-Xa goal of 0.3 to 0.5 units/mL in patients receiving Impella support. Methods: This single-center, retrospective study included 41 patients on Impella support who received an UFH purge solution and/or an IV UFH infusion. The primary outcome was overall composite bleeding. Secondary outcomes included thrombotic events and systemic UFH exposure. An exploratory analysis was performed to identify risk factors for bleeding. Results: Anti-Xa values were in therapeutic range 46% of the time while on support (interquartile range 16.6%-75%), with a median IV UFH dose of 6 units/kg/hour. The overall bleeding rate was 29.2%, with 6 minor bleeds and 2 major bleeds with no fatal bleeding or intracranial hemorrhage. Rate of overall thrombosis was 4.9%, including 1 ischemic stroke and 1 occurrence of limb ischemia. Conclusion: Use of a modified UFH protocol to target an anti-Xa goal of 0.3 to 0.5 units/mL resulted in bleeding and thrombotic event rates similar to previous literature. This protocol utilizing an initial rate of 6 units/kg/hour may be a useful approach to achieve therapeutic anticoagulation while accounting for UFH exposure from the purge solution and minimizing need for frequent calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHospital Pharmacy
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • anticoagulants
  • blood
  • cardiovascular
  • critical care
  • medication process
  • monitoring drug therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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