Background: A major cause of death in dogs with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) is thromboembolism. Previous studies suggest unfractionated heparin (UH) is not effective in preventing thromboembolism in IMHA; however, subtherapeutic dosing could explain the seeming lack of efficacy.
Hypothesis: Providing therapeutic plasma concentration of UH by individually adjusting doses based on antifactor Xa activity would improve survival in IMHA.
Animals: Fifteen dogs with primary IMHA.
Methods: Randomized, prospective, controlled clinical trial. Dogs received standardized therapy for IMHA and either constant dose (CD) (150 U/kg SC) (n = 7) or individually adjusted dose (IAD) (n = 8) UH, monitored via an anti-Xa chromogenic assay, adjusted according to a nomogram. UH was administered every 6 hours until day 7, and every 8 hours thereafter. UH dose was adjusted daily in IAD dogs until day 7, weekly until day 28, then tapered over 1 week. Dogs were monitored for 180 days.
Results: At day 180, 7 dogs in the IAD group and 1 in the CD group were alive (P= .01). Median survival time for the IAD group was >180 days, and 68 days for the CD group. Thromboembolic events occurred in 5 dogs in the CD group and 2 dogs in the IAD group. Doses of UH between 150 and 566 U/kg achieved therapeutic anti-Xa activity (0.35–0.7 U/mL).
Conclusions and Clinical Importance: This study suggests that IAD UH therapy using anti-Xa monitoring reduced case fatality rate in dogs with IMHA when compared with dogs receiving fixed low dose UH therapy.