Blood Clotting Disorders

There are many causes of blood clotting disorders that are important to explore. Blood clots are how our blood deals with injury to blood vessels. The bleeding process needs to be stopped if the individual is to survive, so the ability of the blood to clot is essential for life.

If our bodies could not clot we could not survive even the slightest cut or other injury that caused our body to bleed. Proteins that form the clots and break clots are a balance of nature. This delicate balance is prone to abnormalities.

There is several blood clotting disorders including thrombotic disorders, and bleeding disorders. Clotting and bleeding disorders of the blood occur when the normal processes are abnormal. Platelet aggregation and coagulation are needed in order for clotting mechanisms to work properly.

When there is a shift or abnormality in a single protein on either side of this balance, the blood can shift to either clotting too easily or not clotting at all and having excessive bleeding. When the blood clots too easily we have thrombotic disorders and when it does not clot but bleeds too easily we have bleeding disorders.

Thrombotic

Thrombotic disorders are when the blood too easily clots even when clotting is not required. Genetic defects can cause such disorders including deficiency in antithrombin, protein C, and protein S. These deficiencies can lead to easy clotting because these proteins are not present when inactive clotting factors are present.

Two gene mutations can create the hypercoagulable scenario. One such mutation is the Factor V Leiden, in which it is hard for factor V to be broken down, resulting in clots being easily formed because the factor V stays in the blood too long. A mutation in prothrombin is called “prothrombin 20210” and creates an higher than normal level of the clot-forming prothrombin.

The ability to clot easily can also happen because of environmental situations because of deficiencies in folate, vitamin B12, or vitamin B6.

Treatment includes the use of blood-thinning medications like heparin and warfarin.

Bleeding Disorders

Bleeding disorders are the result of deficiencies of clotting factors, which lead to the tendency to bleed excessively. Hemophilia A which is a deficiency in factor VIII is an example, so is hemophilia B, a deficiency in factor IX. Clotting deficiencies can also be acquired such as having too much of the drug warfarin in your system which can result in critical loss of blood.

Individuals with low platelet counts can also have bleeding issues.

Those with bleeding disorders can have the bleeding occur in different locations within the body such as joints, blood vessels, tissues and muscles. The treatment depends on the location of the bleeding and the type of deficiency. One treatment is to use transfusion of platelets or to use fresh frozen plasma. Injections of individual clotting factors are also something that can be included in the treatment plan.

Image: Steven Depolo/Flickr

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