Difference Between Heparin and Warfarin (With Table)

Heparin and Warfarin are two kinds of medications that are 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.

Heparin vs Warfarin

The main difference between Heparin and Warfarin is the process of intake if both medications differ from each other. The Heparin drugs are taken through the veins of the patient, with the help of an injection. And on the other hand, the Warfarin medications are directly taken orally. Also, one more major difference is that the Heparin drug takes comparatively less time that is of 4-6 hours to work upon the patient. And on the other hand, the Warfarin drug works comparatively very late upon the patient, that is within 3-6 days of taking it.

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 intake of the medication is done through the veins, therefore 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 upon the patient’s body. Warfarin takes about 3-6 days to show its effects and hence, it is comparatively least preferred.

Comparison Table Between Heparin and Warfarin

Parameters of Comparison Heparin Warfarin
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 a 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 the 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, it takes less time to show its effectiveness on the patient’s body. 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.

What is Warfarin?

Warfarin is an anticoagulant that is used to stop the blood from clogging that is 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. During pregnancy, Warfarin is not at all preferred because it can pass through the barriers of the placenta and it 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 at not preferred as it takes time of 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 sort of side effects then they should immediately consult a doctor. And also, Phytomenadione which is 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 the 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.

Conclusion

Some medications are widely used for thinning the blood, because of certain diseases or abnormal symptoms that can cause strokes and these medications are known as anticoagulants. Here, Heparin and Warfarin are two variants of anticoagulants. Both have their respective effectiveness, where the Heparin is more effective and shows its results within 3-4 hours and on the other hand, the Warfarin is less effective and shows its results late within 3-4 days. Both the medications have side effects as well. If a patient sees any of the above-mentioned side effects and he/she should immediately consult a doctor.

References

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198201283060401

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.07119.x

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