Activated Clotting Time

Other names: ACT; Activated Coagulation Time.

Why is the test used?

The ACT test is usually used to examine patients who are undergoing heparin anticoagulant therapy. Heparin is a drug used to prevent blood clots; it is known as a blood clot inhibitor. Heparin is usually given by injection but it may also be given intravenously. The ACT test does not measure the amount of heparin in the blood; instead it measures the efficacy of the drug. The Act test helps doctors to regulate the level of heparin they give patients and to assess whether they are giving the right dose; by testing the patient on a regular basis, they can assess how well the drug is working and then make any necessary changes to the dosage.

The ACT test is usually used during operations, such as cardiopulmonary bypass and angioplasty procedures; the test is used to measure the efficacy of the drug during the procedure.

How is the test performed?

The test is performed by collecting a sample of blood from a vein in the arm. The blood sample will be collected in a syringe, which is attached to the needle. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled and sent off for analysis in the laboratory.

What do the test results signify?

The ACT test produces results extremely quickly; higher levels of heparin indicate a lower chance of the blood clotting. During an operation the test is used to keep the levels of heparin above a certain limit; this limit is the level at which the majority of persons will not experience blood clotting.

Specific Blood Tests

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