How can you make blood clot faster?
Anticoagulant: how does it work? What if it doesn't work properly or too much?
The body's ability to clot blood has a great advantage for humans: How else would we survive an injury?
Injuries close with the coagulation process, so that people are protected from excessive blood loss.
The ability of the blood to clot, however, can also be too strong or too weak, which can lead to serious consequences: If the blood clotting is too strong, there is a risk of blood clots (thrombi) forming. If it is too weak, spontaneous bleeding can occur.
In the following you can read how blood coagulation works, which factors play a role in physical blood clotting, how healthy blood clotting works to prevent excessive blood loss and what can lead to blood clotting disorders.
How does physical blood clotting work?
The healthy coagulation process creates the balancing act between the risk of bleeding and the risk of blood clots forming.
Decreased blood coagulation ("too thin blood") can lead to spontaneous, sometimes life-threatening, internal or external bleeding (e.g. stomach or nosebleeds) or the necessary coagulation process in the case of injuries takes too long; as a result, people lose too much blood.
Conversely, the blood must not clot just like that or in the wrong place: If the blood clots too quickly or excessively, a blood clot can form in the blood vessels (artery or vein), which can lead to life-threatening situations (thrombosis, embolism). This is where the medicinal "blood thinning" (medical anticoagulation) becomes important.
Blood clotting, hemostasis
The healthy body has its own, good protective mechanism to avoid major blood loss in the event of injury. The coagulation system is activated within a short time: a blood clot forms, which seals the injured vessel so that the bleeding is stopped.
In blood clotting, the blood platelets (thrombocytes) and the coagulation factors play the most important role. There are a total of 13 coagulation factors (Factors I to XIII). During blood coagulation, the individual factors are activated in a kind of chain reaction (the so-called coagulation cascade).
Normal hemostasis process
Bleeding is stopped in three steps:
- Narrowing of the blood vessels: This knee-jerk "contraction" of the injured blood vessel slows the blood flow around the injury
- Adhesion of the blood platelets to the wound surface and connection of the blood platelets to one another. This leads to an agglomeration of the blood platelets and a hemostatic plug is formed.
- Blood coagulation: activation of the coagulation factors. A firm network of fibers forms in which the blood platelets and red blood cells are embedded. This structure is called a thrombus (blood clot). Its task: to seal the injured vascular site.
This shows that hemostasis and blood clotting are not the same thing. But: Blood clotting (also known as coagulation) is an important hemostasis mechanism. If necessary, blood coagulation can be influenced very well with medicinal anticoagulants (= anticoagulation).
When the blood is not clotting properly
One can imagine that disturbances can occur in such a complex process. A distinction is made between congenital and acquired blood coagulation disorders.
The most common is acquired blood clotting, which increases the risk of thrombosis. If the blood clots too much, blood clots form in the blood vessels. These blood clots (thrombi) not only threaten to clog arteries or veins at the point of origin. Blood clots can also detach themselves from the vessel wall and reach other organs with the blood flow. Consequence: partial or complete occlusion of the affected blood vessel.
On the one hand, thrombosis can occur with certain diseases: These include cardiovascular diseases such as atrial fibrillation or arteriosclerosis.
On the other hand, the risk of chest damage is increased by certain circumstances: for example, during orthopedic operations (especially knee and hip operations, if the patient is immobilized for too long (travel thrombosis, cast, bed-ridden) or through hormonal changes (for the detailed risk of thrombosis, see the Risk situations section).
Since the coagulation factors are formed in the liver, functional disorders of the liver (e.g. due to alcohol abuse) can of course cause blood clotting disorders. Congenital blood clotting disorders are less common. These include hemophilia or thrombophilia. In both diseases, the blood is too "thinned".
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