Why and how does blood clot occur form in the body?
How can coagulation, which is the body’s natural defense mechanism, become a life-threatening problem?
Coagulation (coagulation) is one of your body’s main defense mechanisms. When your body receives an injury, it covers the area with a thick, dense blood tissue called a clot to help stop bleeding.
The clot that occurs in that form may be fixed on the vessel wall, as well. These are called “thrombosis”. However, it may also be the case that it loosens and ruptures and joins the bloodstream. This condition is called “embolism”.
Proteins called fibrin in the blood come together with thrombocytes to form a blood clot. This process is vital for the body as it slows down blood loss and prevents excessive blood loss. After the bleeding stops and the danger signal in the body passes, the clots in the blood are broken down and removed from the body.
It is not always necessary to have a cut in the body for the coagulation reaction to start. The initiation of an inflammatory reaction in the body can also initiate the clotting process. When the body thinks there is any danger in the vessel wall, it gives the same emergency message and initiates the coagulation reaction to protect the vessel wall.
For example, the veins in the body are elastic and their inner surfaces are smooth. The formation of plaques on the artery wall, which we call atherosclerosis, hardens the wall of the artery. With the effect of the high pressure inside, the plaques on the hardened vessel wall may crack and rupture during stretching. The body sends a signal to repair the damage to this vascular wall and initiates a chain chemical reaction. The area with the damaged plaque is immediately closed with a clot. If the area where the clot is formed is narrowed, the clot can block blood flow.
What is Excessive Blood Coagulation (Hypercoagulation)?
In some cases, blood may clot more easily than normal and these clots may not dissolve properly. This condition is called hypercoagulation (excessive blood clotting). Excessive blood clotting can be dangerous enough to cause life-threatening problems in the body.
Many factors can cause excessive blood clotting. We can divide these factors into 2 categories, acquired and genetic.
Acquired causes of hypercoagulation;
- Oral contraceptives (Birth Control Drugs) and hormone replacement therapy
- Major surgeries
- Being still for a long time, long bed rest
- Airplane trip
- Some types of cancer
- Some autoimmune diseases
Genetic causes of hypercoagulation;
Generally, gene mutations are seen in proteins involved in the coagulation reaction. Proteins that play a role in coagulation or dissolution may not be able to fulfill their functions properly due to mutation. The two most common mutations are Factor V Leiden and Prothrombin G20210A mutations.
The coexistence of both genetic and acquired causes in a person increases the risk of excessive clotting. That’s why adopting a healthy lifestyle is the most important step to avoid potentially dangerous clots.
Arterial Thrombosis – Venous Thrombosis
Blood coagulation can be classified in two different ways. When it occurs in the arteries, it is called “arterial thrombosis” and when it occurs in venous vessels it is called “venous thrombosis”. Both thromboses can lead to serious conditions that can result in death. Clots in the veins and clots in the arteries do not get mixed together unless you have a hole in your heart.
Arterial thrombosis can occur in the arteries leading to the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, and other organs in the body, and as a result, heart attack, stroke, paralysis, kidney failure, impairment in the function of organs, and even death can result.
Venous thrombosis usually occurs in a large vein in the body and the most common form is Deep Vein Thrombosis. Although deep vein thrombosis is mostly seen in the deep veins in the pelvis and legs, it can also occur in the arms. The most common cause is inactivity. Pulmonary embolism is the occlusion of a clot formed in the deep veins by moving through the vein and the pulmonary artery. It should be treated as soon as possible or it can be fatal.
How to Recognize a Clot occur?
Regardless of an artery or a vein, a clot in the vein does not cause any symptoms unless it reduces or prevents blood flow. When blood flow is blocked, the symptoms vary according to which tissue or organ is affected.
For example, symptoms of deep vein thrombosis will occur when the leg veins are blocked by a clot. These include swelling, pallor, redness, temperature increase, cramping, and pain in the leg. In case of pulmonary embolism, breathing difficulties, bloody and sputum cough, rapid heart rate, sweating, chest pain may be experienced.
If an obstructive clot is formed in the arteries, appropriate symptoms will occur to whichever organ or tissue the blood flow is interrupted. If the clot blocks one of the arteries leading to the heart, symptoms of a heart attack are observed.