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Blood clotting disorders occur when the body cannot make sufficient amounts of the proteins that are needed to help the blood clot, stopping bleeding.
What is Blood Clotting Disorder?
Blood clotting (coagulation) disorders are dysfunctions in the body’s ability to control the formation of blood clots. These dysfunctions may cause:
- Too little clotting, leading to abnormal bleeding (haemorrhage)
- Too much clotting, leading to the development of blood clots (thrombosis)
Abnormal bleeding means that people bruise and bleed too easily (see also bruising and bleeding and how blood clots). Abnormal bleeding can result from disorders of:
- Blood clotting (coagulation) system
- Blood vessels
Clotting disorders occur when the body cannot make sufficient amounts of the proteins that are needed to help the blood clot, stopping bleeding. These proteins are called clotting factors (coagulation factors). All clotting factors are made in the liver. The liver requires vitamin K to make some of the clotting factors.
Sometimes there is an abnormality of blood coagulation that increases the risk of clotting called thrombophilia).
What Causes Blood Clotting Disorder?
blood disorder causes can be;
- The result of some other disorder
The most common hereditary coagulation disorders are:
The primary causes of coagulation disorders that develop because of another disorder are:
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Severe liver disease (including cirrhosis, hepatitis, acute liver failure, or acute fatty liver of pregnancy)
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation
- Development of circulating anticoagulants (antibodies that decrease the activity of a specific clotting factor)
Blood Tests of Blood Clotting Disorder
One commonly tested measure that affects the body’s ability to stop bleeding is the count of the number of platelets. Less often, doctors test how well the platelets function. Other tests can measure the overall coordinated function of the many proteins needed for normal blood clotting (clotting factors). The most common of these tests are the prothrombin time (PT) and the partial thromboplastin time (PTT). The levels of individual clotting factors can also be determined.
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Blood Clotting Disorder in Pregnancy
Blood clotting disorders are conditions that cause excessive clotting, limiting, or blocking normal blood flow. If you have a blood clotting disorder, your blood may clot too easily or the clots may not dissolve normally and can break off and travel to other parts of the body.
During pregnancy, blood clotting disorders can pose serious risks to the mother and baby. Pregnancy itself increases the risk of developing blood clots.
Your risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy is further increased by;
- Personal or family history of blood clots
- Genetic disorders that increase your tendency for excessive clotting
- Cesarean delivery
- Multiple births
- Advanced maternal age
- Infection or other associated medical conditions
Blood Clotting Disorder During Pregnancy
Blood clots can be stationary and block blood flow (known as thrombosis) or they can break loose and travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body (known as an embolism).
In pregnant women, blood clots most often develop in the deep veins of the legs or pelvis, a dangerous condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If part of the clot breaks free, it can travel to the lungs, a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.
Much less commonly, blood clots can also travel through your bloodstream to other major organs, including the brain, causing a stroke, or the heart, causing a heart attack.
Blood clots are typically diagnosed through imaging tests, including ultrasound, CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Blood Clotting Disorder in COVID
COVID-19 is a very complex illness. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 attacks the body ranging from mild to life-threatening. Different organs and tissues of the body can be affected, including the blood.
Coronavirus Blood Clots
Blood clots can cause problems ranging from mild to life-threatening. If a clot blocks blood flow in a vein or artery, the tissue normally nourished by that blood vessel can be deprived of oxygen, and cells in that area can die.
Some people infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop abnormal blood clotting. In some people with COVID-19, seeing a massive inflammatory response, the cytokine storm that raises clotting factors in the blood.
Seeing more blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), legs (deep vein thrombosis) and elsewhere.
Other serious illnesses, especially ones that cause inflammation, are associated with blood clots. Research is still exploring if the blood clots seen in severe cases of COVID-19 are unique.
The Impact of Coronavirus Blood Clots Throughout the Body
Besides the lungs, blood clots, including those associated with COVID-19, can also harm:
- The nervous system. Blood clots in the arteries leading to the brain can cause a stroke. Some previously young, healthy people who have developed COVID-19 have suffered strokes, possibly because of abnormal blood clotting.
- The kidneys. Clogging of blood vessels in the kidney with blood clots can lead to kidney failure. It can also complicate dialysis if the clots clog the filter of the machine designed to remove impurities in the blood.
- Peripheral blood vessels and COVID toe. Small blood clots can become lodged in tiny blood vessels. When this happens, close to the skin, it can cause a rash. Some people who test positive for COVID-19 develop tiny blood clots that cause reddish or purple areas on the toes, which can itch or be painful. Sometimes called COVID toe, the rash resembles frostbite.
Reference: Robert Brodsky, a blood specialist who directs the Division of Hematology, and Panagis Galiatsatos, a specialist in lung diseases and critical care medicine, talk about blood problems linked to SARS-CoV-2 the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
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