HITs and misses in 100 years of heparin.
Heparin was discovered 100 years ago, and the heparin-induced thrombocytopenia syndrome was described 40 years ago. That the most powerful anticoagulant of the last century can also produce the most extreme prothrombotic diathesis is but one of the paradoxes that surround heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Standard treatment is alternative anticoagulation. Advances continue to be made regarding pathophysiology, prevention, and treatment. Currently, an epidemic of overdiagnosis threatens the well-being of patients, so efforts to educate clinicians on when and how to make this diagnosis are pressing.