Information for Patients
Normally, if you get hurt, your body forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding. For blood to clot, your body needs cells called platelets and proteins known as clotting factors. If you have a bleeding disorder, you either do not have enough platelets or clotting factors or they don't work the way they should.
Bleeding disorders can be the result of other diseases, such as severe liver disease or a lack of vitamin K. They can also be inherited. Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder. Bleeding disorders can also be a side effect of medicines such as blood thinners.
Various blood tests can check for a bleeding disorder. You will also have a physical exam and history. Treatments depend on the cause. They may include medicines and transfusions of blood, platelets, or clotting factor.
Normally, if you get hurt, your body forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding. After the bleeding stops and healing takes place, your body usually breaks down and removes the clot. But some people get too many clots or their blood clots abnormally. Many conditions can cause the blood to clot too much or prevent blood clots from dissolving properly.
Risk factors for excessive blood clotting include
- Certain genetic disorders
- Atrial fibrillation
- Overweight, obesity, and metabolic syndrome
- Some medicines
- Staying in one position for a long time, such as being in the hospital or taking a long car or plane ride
- Cancer and cancer treatments
Antiphospholipid syndrome Antiphospholipid syndrome is a disorder characterized by an increased tendency to form abnormal blood clots (thromboses) that can block blood vessels. This clotting tendency is known as thrombophilia. In antiphospholipid syndrome, the thromboses can develop in nearly any blood vessel in the body, but most frequently occur in the vessels of the lower limbs. If a blood clot forms in the vessels in the brain, blood flow is impaired and can lead to stroke. Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and organs.Women with antiphospholipid syndrome are at increased risk of complications during pregnancy. These complications include pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (preeclampsia), an underdeveloped placenta (placental insufficiency), early delivery, or pregnancy loss (miscarriage). In addition, women with antiphospholipid syndrome are at greater risk of having a thrombosis during pregnancy than at other times during their lives. At birth, infants of mothers with antiphospholipid syndrome may be small and underweight.A thrombosis or pregnancy complication is typically the first sign of antiphospholipid syndrome. This condition usually appears in early to mid-adulthood but can begin at any age.Other signs and symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome that affect blood cells and vessels include a reduced amount of cell fragments involved in blood clotting called platelets (thrombocytopenia), a shortage of red blood cells (anemia) due to their premature breakdown (hemolysis), and a purplish skin discoloration (livedo reticularis) caused by abnormalities in the tiny blood vessels of the skin. In addition, affected individuals may have open sores (ulcers) on the skin, migraine headaches, heart disease, or intellectual disability. Many people with antiphospholipid syndrome also have other autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus.Rarely, people with antiphospholipid syndrome develop thromboses in multiple blood vessels throughout their body. These thromboses block blood flow in affected organs, which impairs their function and ultimately causes organ failure. These individuals are said to have catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (CAPS). CAPS typically affects the kidneys, lungs, brain, heart, and liver, and is fatal in over half of affected individuals. Less than 1 percent of individuals with antiphospholipid syndrome develop CAPS.