What is Heparin Flush
Heparin is an anticoagulant that is naturally produced in the lungs and liver to prevent blood clotting. A heparin flush is a procedure which is done to keep the catheter clean. Catheter is a concave tube which is made of plastic or rubber to deliver or remove fluids to or from the body and heparin is use to prevent clotting inside the catheter. If a catheter is long then there is high possibility of its blockage due to blood clot. So, the catheter needs to be flushed with a solution, otherwise it will cause an infection to the patient. Other problems that can occur by blockage of catheter are:-
It prevents Complete Blood Count in which sample of blood is taken to see the effect of treatment on our body. Blood flow is blocked which can cause pain, engorgement in your chest, face, neck. A tube may shatter or seep out which can cause severe infection.
The patient is given proper instructions regarding how to perform heparin flush in advance. Heparin flushes are dangerous so patients who need to do flush at home are given personal directions by a doctor or a nurse.
In heparin flush, solution of heparin is injected into the catheter which will prevent clotting of blood. Another solution which is used is sterline saline.
There are some problems with heparin solution like dark urine, bleeding problems, bleeding gums in which there is blood after brushing teeth. This can be due to removal of plaque at the gum line.
Precautions that need to follow are:-
Avoid heparin if you are allergic to it. Ensure with doctor that heparin will not negatively affect your other medications. If your platelets are low that help in making blood clot then doctor will recommend you saline flush instead of heparin flush. Smoking makes heparin less effectual so avoid it.
In addition, the use of heparin in heparin flush it is also use to treat blood clots in the legs and lungs. It also prevents blood clots during dialysis or blood draws. Patients who are not able to move for a long period of time due to blood clot in their legs or thighs will need heparin to prevent it.