Dr. Aimee Foord
Director of C4K’s Bleeding & Clotting Program
A bleeding and clotting disorder is a condition that affects the way your blood normally clots. The clotting process, known as coagulation, changes blood from a liquid to a solid. When you’re injured, your blood normally begins to clot to prevent a massive loss of blood. Sometimes, certain conditions prevent blood from clotting properly, which can result in heavy or prolonged bleeding.
Bleeding disorders can cause abnormal bleeding both outside and inside the body. Some disorders can drastically increase the amount of blood leaving your body. Others cause bleeding to occur under the skin or in vital organs, such as the brain.
Hemophilia A and B can causes heavy or unusual bleeding into the joints. Though hemophilia is rare, it can have life-threatening complications. Factor II, V, VII, X, or XII deficiencies are bleeding disorders related to blood clotting problems or abnormal bleeding problems, and Von Willebrand’s disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder. It develops when the blood lacks von Willebrand factor, which helps the blood to clot.
Bleeding disorders develop when the blood can’t clot properly. For blood to clot, your body needs blood proteins called clotting factors and blood cells called platelets. Normally, platelets clump together to form a plug at the site of a damaged or injured blood vessel. The clotting factors then come together to form a fibrin clot. This keeps the platelets in place and prevents blood from flowing out of the blood vessel.
For people with bleeding and clotting disorders, the clotting factors or platelets don’t work the way they should or are in short supply. When the blood doesn’t clot, excessive or prolonged bleeding can occur. It can also lead to spontaneous or sudden bleeding in the muscles, joints, or other parts of the body.
Bleeding and clotting disorders are largely inherited, which means they’re passed from a parent to their child. Some disorders may develop as a result of other medical conditions, such as liver disease.
Symptoms can vary depending on the specific type of bleeding and clotting disorder. The main signs may include unexplained and easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds, excessive bleeding from small cuts or an injury, or bleeding into joints.
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