Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a life-threatening adverse reaction to heparin therapy that is characterized by thrombocytopenia and an increased risk of venous and arterial thrombosis. According to guidelines, in patients with strongly suspected or confirmed HIT all sources of heparin have to be discontinued and an alternative, nonheparin anticoagulant for HIT treatment must immediately be started. For both the prophylaxis of thrombembolic events in HIT and the treatment of HIT with thrombosis the direct thrombin inhibitor argatroban is approved in the United States. The objective of this review is to describe the mechanism of action and the pharmacokinetic profile of argatroban, to characterize argatroban regarding its safety and therapeutic efficacy and to discuss its place in therapy in HIT.
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