Top 5 Blood Clotting Disorders
A blood clot can lead to a wide variety of complications. They are often the result of immobility, lifestyle factors such as smoking or certain health conditions like some blood clotting disorders. Most commonly, they occur in the legs and lead to further health hazards when they move throughout the body. When a blood clot occurs in the legs, it is known as a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. This means that a vein deep within the leg is affected by a blockage. Blood clot symptoms in the leg include redness, swelling, pain and a sensation of warmth. They are treated in a hospital most commonly with intravenous medication that helps to break up the clot and then further treated afterwards with oral medications to prevent the future formation of a subsequent recurrence.
Sometimes, these clots travel and can end up in the lungs. When this happens, a pulmonary embolism can occur. This is a medical emergency and blood clot treatment often starts with thrombolytic therapy, where drugs designed to break up and dissolve the clot are injected near the affected area. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pain and shortness of breath and other signs like bluish skin and a rapid heart rate may also occur. The risk for a clot ending up in the lungs can be increased due to some blood clotting disorders.
Aside from heart attacks, one of the most serious complications of a blood clot can be what is referred to as an ischemic stroke. This literally refers to a clot that is blocking an artery in the vein. Without prompt treatment, cells in the brain can die rapidly, sometimes in as little as a few minutes. Clots that form in the neck and the head that become dislodged are some of the most common causes of an ischemic stroke, but there are other causes as well.
There are many blood clotting disorders that can contribute to an increased risk of developing the dangerous clots which can in turn lead to serious complications. We’ve come up with a list of the top five conditions that may increase the likelihood of clot development.
- Factor V(5) Lieden: Of all disorders relating to the tendency for blood within the body to clot, Factor V(5) Lieden is one of the most common. It is a genetic disorder and essentially restricts the ability to turn of the Factor V protein that the body uses to form clots. Affected individuals most likely will not ever develop a clot, but there are some people with the condition that are at a higher risk. Those taking birth control pills and those who smoke (which can cause sticky and thick blood) are at an elevated risk for clot development when the disorder is present.
- Deficiencies of Proteins C and S: Both the C protein and the S protein are used in the formation of blood clots and those affected with a deficiency of one or both may be at an increased risk for clot production, although many affected individuals will never encounter one. Unlike many other blood clotting disorders however, there is a severe form of this deficient condition where infants born without appropriate levels of the proteins may be born blind and with brain damage.
- Antithrombin Deficiency: The prevention of blood clots is the responsibility of antithrombin and those who are deficient in the natural protein can lead to an increased risk of clot formation. How deficient a person is in antithrombin will ultimately provide the best determination of how high the likelihood of developing a clot will be, but the condition is thought to lead to more clots than a deficiency of the C protein and the S protein.
- Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APLA or APLAS): While most blood clotting disorders are genetic or are present at birth, APLA is not – it is an acquired condition. It is an autoimmune disease and therefore the mechanism of action is the same as it is with other variants of autoimmune disorders whereby which the body attacks healthy cells. It is not exactly known how the body becomes more susceptible to clots when APLA is present.
- Prothrombin Mutation: Behind the Factor V(5) Lieden condition, the Prothrombin Mutation is considered one of the most common blood clotting disorders. It is a genetic condition in which too much clotting occurs due to an abundance of prothrombin in the system. The risk of clots depends on whether one or both genes are affected, overall health and other factors. But, having the disorder does not necessarily mean that a clot will present and many people with the Prothrombin mutation never develop a blood clot.
For nearly all blood clotting disorders, the use of blood thinning medications when necessary is often employed. It is also possible that in individuals with the disorders that do not require the medications that some natural blood thinners may be useful. There are many foods that thin the blood naturally like grapes and blueberries and there are many blood thinning herbs that can be considered as well such as garlic and ginger. However, it is very important that anyone with a condition that changes the blood’s ability to clot discuss any and all items from a herbal blood thinners list or similarly active foods that perform the same function be discussed with a health care provider before their use. This is especially critical in anyone taking blood thinning medications, whereby natural options to thin the blood may cause serious complications from the blood becoming too thin.