Coagulation refers to clotting of blood. It is the process because of which blood clots and forms solid masses. There are various types of cells and substances in the blood that affect clotting. The whole process is mainly initiated by blood platelets. Platelets produce a substance which combined with calcium ones form thromboplastin.
Thromboplastin is responsible for converting the protein prothrombin into thrombin through a complex series of reactions. Thrombin converts a protein substance fibrinogen into fibrin which is an insoluble protein. Fibrin results in forming an intricate network of minute threadlike structures called fibrils that cause the blood plasma to gel. The plasma and the blood cells are enmeshed in the network of fibrils. This results in the formation of the clot.
Causes of blood coagulation
Blood clots are formed when plasma protein and platelets thickens. This results in forming semisolid mass. One of the main reasons for such clot is injury. It can also happen inside blood vessels that do not have an obvious injury.
Some of the major causes that are associated with blood coagulation are:
- Antiphospholipid syndrome
- Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Certain medications, such as hormone therapy drugs, oral contraceptives and some breast cancer medications
- Heart arrhythmias
- Factor V Leiden
- Family history of blood clots
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Polycythemia Vera
- Peripheral artery disease
- Pulmonary embolism
- Prolonged sitting or bed rest
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms and signs of the blood clots depend on their location in the body. There are some blood clots that do not produce any signs. They either dislocate or travel through the circulatory system to other sites or they rupture. Symptoms of blood clots include:
- Symptoms of blood clot in legs are redness, pain and swelling
- Symptoms of blood clots in lung are shortness of breath, chest pain and rapid pulse and breathing
- Symptoms of an arterial blood clot in the leg include leg being pale and cool. There will also be lot of pain
- Symptoms of blood clot in an artery of the brain include loss of vision, speech and also weakness on one side of the body.
- Symptoms of blood clot in a coronary artery include shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, sweating and indigestion.
- Symptoms of blood clot to an artery that supplies blood to the intestine include nausea, abdominal pain, and blood in the stool.
There are various reasons for blood coagulation. Sometimes it happens because of age. While normal blood coagulation is a natural part of healing, some time abnormal venous and arterial clots are a significant cause of disability and death. Special attention to nutrients through diet and supplement programme should be done to avoid blood coagulation that can be prevented if proper diet is taken. Get yourself checked by doctor at regular intervals so that any abnormality can be detected at an early stage and proper treatment can be given before it s too late.
Myths and facts:
Myth: Blood donation can result in blood clots
Fact: Blood donation will result in blood clotting only if the person is dehydrated. Hence, before donating it is essential that you drink lots of fruit juice or water.
Myth: Vegans are prone to blood clots
Fact: Blood clots do not depend on vegan or non vegan diet. It mainly takes place because of vitamin K deficiency. If the person takes adequate amount of food such as cabbage, mustard, spinach and so on than the adequate nutrients will acts as blood thinner and prevent clotting.
Myth: Massage during pregnancy does not lead to blood clots
Fact: Massage leads to improvement in blood circulation. However, the same is not true for pregnant women as massage during that time puts one at greater risk of blood clot formation.
Myth: After sexual intercourse, men can get blood clots
Fact: In healthy people who maintain genital hygiene blood clots do not happen. However, due to prostrate infection and dirty urinary tract blood clots may happen.
Diagnosis of disease
The diagnosis of blood clot can be suggested after going through the medical history and also after doing complete physical examination. Evaluation of your condition will differ depending on the type as well as location of your blood clot. Medical and family history will be reviewed in detail by your doctor if you have a close relative with whom you share blood connection suffer from the following:
- Unexplained miscarriages
- Blood clots while on birth control pills or during pregnancy
- Relatives with excessive or abnormal clotting
- A history of excessive or unusual blood clots
- A history of repeated blood clots before age 40
Some blood tests will also be performed by your doctor to get information about platelet count and blood count. These tests are done so as to measure white blood cells, red blood cells and also get a platelets count in your blood. Platelet count is very important as platelets are blood cell fragments which stick together to form clots. In case of more information additional blood tests may also be conducted. You may also be sent for one or more of the below tests:
- Venous ultrasound
- Chest CT scan
- Abdominal/pelvic CT scan
- Head CT scan
Treatment for blood coagulation
Treatment of the disease usually depends on the type and location of your blood clot.
- Arterial clots: In case of Arterial clots doctor may recommend you to undergo catheter-directed thrombolysis. It is a process that delivers “clot busting" drugs to the site of the clot. The clot can also be removed by surgery. It is essential to manage clots in such areas as arterial clots can result in blocking blood flow to vital organs.
- Venous clots: in case of venous clots doctor may prescribe you with anticoagulant medications so as to help your blood to thin and thereby allow it to pass easily past the site of the clot.
A procedure called inferior vena cava filter placement may be recommended for patients who are at high risk for blood clots. In the procedure filter is placed into your vein so as to prevent blood clot fragments from travelling through the veins to lungs or heart.
Here is a list of anticoagulants that can be prescribed by the doctor for treating blood clots. Such blood thinner names are:
This is not a complete list of medicines. There may be other medicines also.
Steps to improve the health
- Proper diet should be intake
- anticoagulant drugs should be taken as prescribed
- Physical activity should be reduced for some time and the patient should take some rest
- Regular checkups should be done so as to understand progress
Important things to know
Taking anticoagulant drugs may cause certain side effects. Anticoagulant side effects may include excessive bleeding, diarrhoea or constipation, indigestion, feeling and being sick, dizziness, rashes, headaches, jaundice, itchy skin, hair loss. If you experience any of such side effects it is best to get medical attention as early as possible.