Background: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a known complication of heparin therapy. This study was planned to assess the experience of a community based medical practice with HIT in a rural setting.

Method: A retrospective study was done from medical records of patients suspected clinically of HIT from January 2006 to January 2007. The data were analyzed with regard to test results of patients, especially those who were positive for the HIT antibody and correlated with national statistics.

Result: Fifty-two (52) patients were suspected clinically of having HIT during the study period. All 52 patients received heparin and most of them had cardiac surgery before the onset of thrombocytopenia. Six out of fifty-two (6/52) patients were found to have positive HIT antibody. Two out of six (2/6) also had positive serotonin release assay. Two out of six (2/6) developed heparin-induced thrombocytopenia with thrombosis (HITT). One of the two patients with HITT died of complications. The range of time to obtain test results was 5–7 days. Four out of fifty-two (4/52) patients received thrombin inhibitor lepirudin (Refludan) as alternate anticoagulation.

Conclusion: The overall incidences, time of onset, relation to heparin treatment were similar to that of national averages. The time to obtain diagnostic test results ranged 5–7 days and heparin was withheld in all of them, and more expensive anticoagulation was used for some of them while waiting for the test results. This dilemma in diagnosis and treatment could be avoided if a rapid test that can help to assess the risk early in about 12–24 hrs, is possible. Such a test would be very beneficial especially in small, rural community settings where the availability of expensive testing and medications for HIT are limited.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.