Heparin vs Warfarin: Difference and Comparison

Heparin and Warfarin are two medications used for thinning the blood, specifically in medical cases such as heart disease, unstable angina, stroke, etc. These two medications are mostly used after surgery to dry out the wounded or affected areas as soon as possible, as they can clog the blood and cause infection in that area. These two medications work both internally and externally. Even though the medications are used for the same purpose, but there are many distinct differences between them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Heparin acts rapidly as an anticoagulant, while warfarin has a slower onset of action.
  2. Heparin is administered through injection, while warfarin is taken orally.
  3. Physicians monitor heparin treatment using the activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), while warfarin therapy is monitored through the international normalized ratio (INR).

Heparin vs Warfarin

Heparin is a natural anticoagulant that prevents the formation of blood clots by inhibiting the activity of clotting factors in the blood. Warfarin is an oral anticoagulant that works by inhibiting the production of vitamin K-dependent clotting factors in the liver to prevent blood clots.

Heparin vs Warfarin

Heparin is a drug/medication that is used for stopping the blood from getting clogged. Heparin is also widely known as Unfractionated Heparin. The Heparin medication is given to the patients through their veins, with the help of an injection. Since the medication intake is done through the veins, it quickly reacts within 4-6 hours in the patient’s body. Hence, it can be termed as a blood-thinning drug that takes less time to show its effects.

On the other hand, Warfarin is also a blood-thinning medication that is under the brand name Coumadin. It is widely used to avoid strokes in various diseases that can clog the blood in the human body. The intake of the Warfarin medication is done orally, and that’s why it takes time to work on the patient’s body. Warfarin takes about 3-6 days to show its effects; hence, it is comparatively least preferred.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHeparinWarfarin
Anticoagulant TypeGenerally, Heparin is considered to be a direct anticoagulant. Generally, Warfarin is considered to be an indirect anticoagulant.
Effectiveness of the Medication During Pregnancy Heparin is a drug that is generally the most preferred anticoagulant drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it never crosses the barrier of the placenta or is never discharged with the milk while feeding.Warfarin is a drug that is generally not preferred as an anticoagulant drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it crosses the barrier of the placenta and is also discharged with the milk while feeding.
Molecule SizeThe size of the molecules of the Heparin is comparatively big.The size of the molecules of Warfarin is comparatively small.
Intake Heparin is taken with the help of injection through the veins of the body.Warfarin intake is done orally.
Effectiveness Heparin affects the human body within 3-4 hours.Warfarin affects the human body within 3-6 days.
Recommendation of Doses Heparin doses are recommended for at least four days by the specialist. Warfarin is not recommended too much by the specialist, as its processes are late.
PathwayThe pathways for Heparin are Intrinsic and common. The pathways for Warfarin are Extrinsic and common.
Duration Heparin takes less time to show its effects. Warfarin takes more time to show its effects.
AntidoteProtamine is considered the antidote to Heparin.Phytomenadione is considered the antidote to Warfarin.
Chemical FormulaThe chemical formula that represents Heparin is C¹²H¹⁹NO²⁰S³.The chemical formula that represents Warfarin is C¹⁹H¹⁶O⁴.
Side Effects The side effects of Heparin include many things such as bleeding, pain, redness, itchiness in the feet, pale skin color, etc.The side effects of Warfarin include many things such as bleeding, color change of urine into red or brown, intense headaches and stomach aches, body pain, etc.

What is Heparin?

Heparin is one of the leading anticoagulants that is used for thinning the blood when an abnormality or any disease is detected in the human body. Generally, Heparin is considered to be a direct anticoagulant. It is termed a direct anticoagulant because it is absorbed by the body directly from the veins, which makes the process quick and easy. The chemical formula that represents Heparin is C¹²H¹⁹NO²⁰S³.

Heparin is a drug that is generally the most preferred anticoagulant drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it never crosses the barrier of the placenta or is never discharged with the milk while feeding. During pregnancy or while breastfeeding, some medications are harmful to the baby after birth or even during pregnancy. And therefore, Heparin is one of the medications that protect the baby from its effects. The size of the molecules of Heparin is comparatively big. The reason behind why Heparin does not affect the baby is because of the huge size of its particles that can not pass through some specific inner parts of the body.

The pathways for Heparin are Intrinsic and common. Also, showing its effectiveness on the patient’s body takes less time. Within 3-4 hours, Heparin does its work. And this is because it is taken through the veins that make the liquid flow through the veins to the whole body. And, Protamine is considered the antidote to Heparin.

heparin

What is Warfarin?

Warfarin is an anticoagulant used to stop the blood from clogging caused by various diseases. The chemical formula that represents Warfarin is C¹⁹H¹⁶O⁴. It has both advantages as well as many disadvantages. Even though Warfarin is widely used in many cases but it is restricted in some specific cases, such as pregnancy. Warfarin is not at all preferred during pregnancy because it can pass through the barriers of the placenta and can also be discharged while breastfeeding the baby. The main reason behind this is the small size of the particles that can easily pass from one place to the other.

Generally, Warfarin is considered to be an indirect anticoagulant. Also, it takes a longer time to show its effects on the patients, and if any patient urgently requires an anticoagulant for usage, then Warfarin is not preferred as it takes 3-6 days. Warfarin intake is done orally. And hence, it takes time to adjust and absorb by the body. The pathways for Warfarin are Extrinsic and common.

The side effects of Warfarin include many things such as bleeding, color change of urine into red or brown, intense headaches and stomach aches, body pain, etc. If one sees any side effects, then one should immediately consult a doctor. And also, Phytomenadione, the antidote to Warfarin, should be used.

Main Differences Between Heparin and Warfarin

  1. Generally, Heparin is considered to be a direct anticoagulant. On the other hand, generally, Warfarin is considered to be an indirect anticoagulant.
  2. Heparin is a drug that is generally the most preferred anticoagulant drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it never crosses the barrier of the placenta or is never discharged with the milk while feeding. On the other hand, Warfarin is a drug that is generally not preferred as an anticoagulant drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it crosses the barrier of the placenta and is also discharged with milk while feeding.
  3. The size of the molecules of Heparin is comparatively big. On the other hand, the size of the molecules of Warfarin is comparatively small.
  4. Heparin is taken with the help of injection through the veins of the body. On the other hand, Warfarin intake is done orally.
  5. Heparin affects the human body within 3-4 hours. On the other hand, Warfarin affects the human body within 3-6 days.
  6. Heparin doses are recommended for at least four days by the specialist. On the other hand, Warfarin is not recommended too much by the specialist, as its processes are late.
  7. The pathways for Heparin are Intrinsic and common. On the other hand, the pathways for Warfarin are Extrinsic and common.
  8. Heparin takes less time to show its effects. On the other hand, Warfarin takes more time to show its effects.
  9. Protamine is considered the antidote to Heparin. On the other hand, Phytomenadione is considered the antidote to Warfarin.
  10. The chemical formula that represents Heparin is C¹²H¹⁹NO²⁰S³. On the other hand, the chemical formula that represents Warfarin is C¹⁹H¹⁶O⁴.
  11. The side effects of Heparin include many things, such as bleeding, pain, redness, itchiness in the feet, pale skin color, etc. On the other hand, the side effects of Warfarin include many things such as bleeding, color change of urine into red or brown, intense headaches and stomach aches, body pain, etc.
Difference Between Heparin and Warfarin
References
  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198201283060401
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.07119.x
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