A blood clot is the body’s lifesaving way of stopping bleeding. However, a blood clot can also occur in abnormal conditions and can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks and strokes. Here is information to help explain the intricacies of how a blood clot is formed, as well as a look at various clotting disorders that can occur within the human body.

What Is a Blood Clot?

A blood clot has a few components.

  1. Platelet Plug. Platelets are small components within blood that will initiate blood clots. Whenever platelets encounter a damaged blood vessel, they will flock to the damaged area to form a plug, which will reduce the bleeding. They also release substances to trigger the chemical reaction of a blood clot formation.
  2. Chemical Reactions. Chemical reactions within your blood will grow the blood clot. In fact, your blood contains dissolved proteins, also known as clotting factors, which will promote blood clots.
  3. Anti-clotting Processes. Once a blood clot is formed, it must be prevented from spreading or growing too large, which could transform the clot into a harmful entity. Your body naturally contains anti-clotting proteins, to balance out its natural clotting factors.
  4. Breaking Down the Blood Clot. Once the body has healed its damaged tissue, it will naturally break down the blood clot and reabsorb it.

blood clotting disorderCommon Clotting Disorders

As previously mentioned, your body naturally produces blood clots as both lifesaving measures and to aid the healing process for damaged tissues. However, there are instances when blood clots can form due to clotting disorders.

  • Thrombophilia is a medical term that describes a number of genetic conditions that are associated with an increased tendency for “throwing” a blood clot. These increased tendencies can sometimes lead to serious and/or life-threatening blood clots.
  • Factor V Leiden is one of the most common clotting disorders. It is a hereditary disorder that can be passed down and increases the likelihood that your body will throw a blood clot, including Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
  • Prothrombin mutation is considered the second-most common genetic clotting disorder. It occurs when there too much prothrombin in his blood, which causes the body to produce more blood clots.
  • A Protein C and Protein S deficiency can increase the likelihood that you will have a blood clot. In fact, Protein C and Protein S both work to prevent blood clots from forming within your body. These two deficiencies can be hereditary.
  • Antithrombin deficiency can also increase the likelihood that you will have a blood clot. Antithrombin is a natural protein whose main job is to prevent blood clots. If you don’t have enough antithrombin within your body, your risk of blood clots will increase.

Treating Blood Clots

There are several treatments for blood clots. Medically administered blood thinning medications, compression clothing, and various vein procedures can be conducted by medical staff to help you prevent, treat, and manage the pain associated with blood clots.

Should you have symptoms including swelling (usually in one leg or arm), skin discoloration, leg pain, or tenderness that feels like a cramp or Charley horse, and the leg (or arm) area is warm to the touch, do not hesitate to go the emergency room.