Commercial heparin is extracted from several different animal tissues and prepared in almost pure form. Injection of relatively small quantities, about 0.5 to 1 mg/kg of body weight, causes the blood-clotting time to increase from a normal of about 6 minutes to 30 or more minutes. Furthermore, this change in clotting time occurs instantaneously, thereby immediately preventing or slowing further development of a throm-boembolic condition.
The action of heparin lasts about 1.5 to 4 hours. The injected heparin is destroyed by an enzyme in the blood known as heparinase.
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