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How to Give a Heparin Shot: Care Instructions

Injection sites, to either side and at least 5 centimetres (2 inches) from belly button
Person giving self a shot, inserting needle straight into fold of skin on side of belly

Your Care Instructions

Heparin is an anticoagulant medicine given as a shot (injection). Your doctor may have given you low-molecular-weight heparin. Anticoagulants are often called blood thinners. They prevent new blood clots from forming and keep existing clots from getting larger.

At first, you may be nervous about giving yourself a shot. But soon, giving the shot will become routine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you inject blood thinners?

Follow your doctor's instructions for how often to inject the medicine, which will likely be in prefilled syringes. You may need to give yourself a shot once or twice a day. It is very important to give yourself the shots at the same time each day.

Giving the shot

  1. Gather your prefilled syringe and an alcohol wipe or a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and running water. Dry them well.
  3. Choose a spot on your stomach for the shot. It should be at least 5 centimetres off to the side of your belly button.
  4. Use alcohol to clean the skin before you give the shot. Let it dry.
  5. Remove the cap from the needle. Hold the syringe like a pencil close to the site, keeping your fingers off the plunger.
  6. Slightly pinch a fold of skin between your fingers and thumb of one hand.
  7. Most doctors recommend placing the syringe at a 90-degree angle to the shot site, standing straight up from the skin.
  8. Quickly push the needle all the way into the pinched-up fold of skin.
  9. Push the plunger of the syringe all the way in so the medicine goes into the fatty tissue.
  10. Be sure to hold the skin fold as you give the shot. This will help make sure you do not inject the medicine into muscle.
  11. Take the needle out at the same angle that you inserted it. Let go of the skin fold.
  12. If you bleed a little, apply pressure over the shot area with your finger, a cotton ball, or a piece of gauze. To help avoid bruising, do not rub the area.
  13. Dispose of the needle safely. Don't use the same needle more than one time.
  14. Slightly change the spot where you give the shot each time you do it.

Other instructions for using blood thinners

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

If you miss taking a dose

  • Call your doctor or nurse call line if you miss a dose and are not sure what to do. Your doctor can tell you exactly what to do so you do not take too much or too little blood thinner. Then you will be as safe as possible.
  • Some general rules for what to do if you miss a dose:
    • If you remember it in the same day, take the missed dose. Then go back to your regular schedule.
    • If it is the next day or is almost time to take the next dose, do not take the missed dose. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one. At your next regularly scheduled time, take your normal dose.
    • If you miss your dose for 2 or more days, call your doctor or nurse call line.
  • To help you stay on schedule, use a calendar to remind you when to give yourself a shot. When you take the medicine, note it on the calendar.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.