Under normal conditions, blood clots are a good thing. When a person gets hurt, platelets and proteins clump together to form a clot and prevent the person from losing a lot of blood. Coagulation is the technical name for forming a blood clot.
In blood clotting disorders, something goes wrong with the clotting process. Either the blood doesn’t clot, as with hemophilia, or it clots too much. “Thrombophilia” or “hypercoagulable” describes a group of conditions in which the blood clots too much.
Why is Thrombophilia Dangerous?
While blood clots are helpful during an injury, they become dangerous when they form within a blood vessel and block the flow of blood. A blood clot that forms in an artery, for example, can cause a heart attack or a stroke. A blood clot in a vein can cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolus. Such conditions can be disabling or fatal.
Thrombophilia is also common. In the United States alone, about two million people develop a DVT every year. Over 600,000 Americans die from abnormal blood clots each year.
What Causes Thrombophilia?
Thrombophilia can be inherited or acquired. The inherited type runs in families, and the patient is born with an abnormality that greatly increases their tendency to develop blood clots. Some people, for example, are born with an abnormally low number of proteins like antithrombin or protein C that prevent blood clots. The most common inherited hypercoagulable state is called Factor V Leiden, which is a mutation of the Factor V clotting factor. It affects both men and women and is most common in white people of European descent. The only symptoms of the mutation are the blood clots themselves.
Most hypercoagulable states are acquired, and they have multiple causes that can include the following:
- Prolonged immobility or bed rest
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Various medications including cancer drugs, hormone replacement drugs and birth control pills
- Long airplane flights
What is Hemophilia?
Hemophilia is a group of rare genetic disorders in which the patient’s blood doesn’t have enough blood clotting proteins in it. It, therefore, clots more slowly than normal. The biggest danger associated with hemophilia is the increased risk of internal bleeding.
While rare, hemophilia is the most common and possibly best-known X-linked genetic disease. That means that the defective clotting protein is caused by a defective gene located on the X chromosome. Since men have only one X chromosome while women have two, the vast majority of hemophilia patients are male. Women are usually carriers; while they can carry the gene for hemophilia, they usually don’t develop any of the symptoms. They can, however, pass the disorder down to their sons.
How are Blood Clotting Disorders Treated?
People with thrombophilia are generally given anti-coagulant medications. People with blood clotting disorders like hemophilia may take medications that prevent blood clots from breaking down. It all depends on the unique situation. Schedule an appointment at Fox Vein Experts in Hollywood or Pembroke Pines to learn more about how blood clotting disorders can be effectively treated. Contact us today to book your appointment.