What is excessive blood clotting disorder? Typically blood is in liquid form and delivers nutrients and oxygen to different tissues of our body. When blood consistency changes from liquid towards a more concentrated form, we say blood has clotted. Blood clots can travel or form into the veins or arteries in the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, and limbs. Do you know that blood clots can block or limit blood flow? Yes, it's true. It also damages cause several problems by damaging the body's organs. Do you know that blood clots can be fatal in some cases? What is the other name of this disorder? The medical term for clotting of blood is thrombosis. It can develop in an arterial or a venous system -- basically, any vessel that carries blood -- and is named either arterial thrombosis or venous thrombosis.
What are the causes of excessive blood clotting disorder?
Common causes of blood clot can be either hereditary or acquired, such as prolonged sitting or bed rest or long air travel; medications, such as oral contraceptives and hormone therapy; obesity; pregnancy; and smoking. In hereditary blood clotting, APLA syndrome or factor V Leiden mutation, protein C/S deficiency etc. are responsible for the disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of excessive blood clotting?
- Signs of blood clotting in the stomach: Blood clotting may also occur in the stomach. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and swelling. Apart from this, they can also be signs of stomach virus or food poisoning. If you have any such problem, contact the doctor immediately.
- Blood clotting in the brain: A blood clot can also form in the brain. If you have a sudden severe headache, it may be a sign of blood clotting in the brain. Apart from this, problems in speaking or seeing suddenly are also included in its initial symptoms.
- Blood clotting in heart: The formation of blood clots in the heart can cause serious problems such as heart attack. Early signs of this include shortness of breath, rapid running of heartbeats, and intense breathing sound at bedtime.
- Blood clotting in legs or arms: Swelling, pain, and cramps in the feet or hands may be signs of blood clotting. Please do not ignore it and contact the doctor immediately.
Excessive blood clotting: Know how this disorder is diagnosed?
The thrombotic disorder usually is diagnosed with Doppler study and may require angiography some times. If you have excessive blood clotting, then the doctor based on your symptoms and signs will look for the cause of the condition. Your doctor will review the results from physical tests or exam. The physician may ask about your family and medical histories. Your specialist might also refer you to a haematologist (who specializes in treating and diagnosing blood disorders and diseases).
What is the treatment of excessive blood clotting disorder (Hypercoagulation)?
- Routine treatment includes blood thinners or anticoagulants, while short-term treatment may consist of antithrombin factor and protein C.
- To prevent these problems, emergency treatment often involves drugs and medications. Some of the medicines are "clot busters," or thrombolytics that can quickly break up clumps. Beware as these pills can cause sudden bleeding! These are only used in life-threatening situations to break up extensive blood coagulation.
- Treat diseases that can lead to excessive blood clottings. Some of such conditions are heart diseases, vascular diseases and diabetes. Avoid female hormone estrogen medicines.
How to prevent excessive blood clotting?
Role of vitamin-K in the body: It is not that our body needs vitamin-K only to establish blood clot, but it is also required for strengthening bones. Vitamin-K works to maintain the mechanism of bones, and its deficiency increases the blood clotting, which can also prove to be fatal.
Some ways to prevent clotting can be:
- Treating health conditions like peripheral artery disease or diabetes that can lead to excessive blood clotting
- Quitting smoking and maintaining optimum weight
- Avoiding medicines that regulate estrogen, the female hormone
- Staying active by moving legs, flex, and stretching during long trips to ensure blood flow
- If it is high, lowering homocysteine level can help.
Vitamin K deficiency: When there is a deficiency of vitamin-K in the body, our blood becomes very thin. In such a situation, excessive bleeding can cause a brain haemorrhage. It is therefore essential that we take a diet rich in vitamin-K in our diet.
Who is at risk of excessive blood clotting disorder?
Following people are at a higher risk:
- Unexplained miscarriages or personal history of repeated blood clots or people suffering from health conditions that affect blood supply, such as atrial fibrillation, vasculitis, atherosclerosis, or a metabolic syndrome
- Genetic Risk Factors: You are more likely to have excessive blood clotting if you have a family history of dangerous blood clots.
- People living with transplanted organs or implanted devices. People with HIV and taking HIV treatment.
What are the complications linked with excessive blood clotting?
Due to clot in the vessel, normal blood flow is affected. This disrupts the delivery of nutrients and oxygen from the heart to other parts of the body, including the brain. Blood circulation will be compromised to post-thrombotic tissue. If it affects the arterial system, then the patient may develop ischemia or gangrene. If it grows in a venous system, such as in a deep venous system of the lower limb, then it can cause swelling, pain and later post-thrombotic sequelae.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): A blood clot deep in your leg, arm or in the vein can cause swelling, pain, increased warmth and redness in the affected limb. Such lumps are known as DVT or deep vein thrombosis. These clots could also break off, travel to the lungs, and cause a pulmonary embolism.
- (PE) Pulmonary Embolism: When a blood clot travels in the body to the lungs through a deep vein, then it is called PE or pulmonary embolism. It is a severe condition which can damage your other organs, including lungs and cause low oxygen levels in your blood.
- Pregnancy-Related Difficulties: Do you know what blood clots can lead to? It can cause stillbirths, miscarriages, and preeclampsia. High blood pressure which occurs during pregnancy is also known as preeclampsia.
Points to keep in mind about excessive blood clotting
- For blood clot in the arterial system, we need to keep a close watch on symptoms like blackening of the terminal finger, weakness in limbs, and chest pain. For venous systems, it is essential to keep a check on swelling in the limb and signs of breathlessness or palpitation.
- When to seek medical advice? People who are struggling with any disease or problem due to excessive blood clotting disorder (the thinning of the blood) or people who are eating blood-thinning medicines, they should talk to their doctor before adding vitamin-K to rich food and fruits in their diet. They should know what they can eat and what not to eat.
How does it feel to live with excessive blood clotting disorder? It is not a comfortable state of living. Depending on the reason for a blood clot or the risk of it, one has to be very attentive and careful about daily life, right from food, to work to workout. Dietitian Mehar Bakshi encourages to maintain the steady blood flow through veins and prevent excessive blood clotting by including these food items in your diet.
- Vitamin-E: Vitamin-E rich food items such as almonds, avocados, sweet potatoes, asparagus, etc. reduce blood platelet clumping.
- Ginger: Natural chemical found in ginger, salicylate works wonders to prevent the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Garlic: Garlic is a natural blood thinner, which helps in the fibrinolytic activity (FA) and prevents blood clotting.
- Turmeric: An active compound, curcumin present in the wonder spice prevents clotting.
- Virgin olive oil: Enriched with antioxidants, the oil helps to lower the risk of blood clots.
(Inputs by Dr Abhijit Baheti, Haematologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune)
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