Why Is Blood Clotting So Important?: Why Coagulation?
Blood clots often get a bad wrap. They’re associated with things like pulmonary embolism and other serious health problems, and they’re often thought of, in general, as being bad or undesirable.And though, here at DVTlite, we’re in the business of preventing dangerous blood clots and deep vein thrombosis, in particular, blood clotting does serve an important purpose in our bodies.
To understand, let’s take a look at the biological mechanisms behind normal, everyday blood clots.
How Does Blood Clot?
Blood clots usually begin with a damaged blood vessel; think from a cut, scrape, or other wound.
When platelets – tiny components in our blood – encounter these damaged vessels, they become stimulated and other platelets throughout the body begin to flock to the site. When enough platelets have arrived, they begin to clump together to form the beginning of a blood clot designed to stop excessive bleeding. They also release various substances that begin the next phase of clotting.
The resulting chemical reaction accelerates the development of fibrin, a protein that works to strengthen and secure the initial platelet clot.
Once the blood clot has achieved its mission of preventing excessive bleeding, it must stop growing and be prevented from spreading through the body and causing damage. A number of anti-clotting proteins neutralize any excess clotting factors, preventing the clot from growing larger.
As the damaged tissue heals, the body slowly dissolves the blood clot and reabsorbs it over the course of several weeks by using an enzyme called plasmin and other substances.
Why Does Blood Clot?
As noted above, blood clots occur primarily in order to prevent excessive bleeding.
Think about it. In the early days of human kind, before Band-Aids, gauze, and stitches, our bodies needed a mechanism by which to prevent massive blood loss. Though deep wounds could often be deadly (and still are, today) we needed protection from minor cuts and abrasions – without blood clots, these minor injuries could be enough to make us bleed to death.
For this reason, cuts and other wounds that cause bleeding are the most common causes of blood clots. However, blood clots have also been known to occur in specialized situations:
Why does blood clot during menstruation?
A woman’s body produces natural anticoagulants to prevent menstrual blood from clotting, but during heavy periods, there may not be enough time for these anticoagulants to take effect. This kind of clotting is normal, though any clots larger than a quarter may warrant further examination from a medical professional.
Why does blood clot during dialysis?
During dialysis, a process during which blood is removed from the body, cleaned, and then returned to normal flow, blood clotting can be common. Low blood pressure and other factors can cause blood to clot at the junction where a patient’s vein meets the dialysis tubing or machine. Elevating blood pressure through salts, water intake, compression stockings, or mobile compression devices can decrease the likelihood of this problem.
Why does blood clot during pregnancy?
Blood clots are more common in pregnant women than in the general population primarily due to prolonged bed rest, other periods of inactivity, and an overall increase in body fat. Pregnant women should be on higher alert for deep vein thrombosis and other clot-related dangers.
Abnormal blood clots can also be common in individuals that fit a certain risk profile; smokers, those with sedentary lifestyles, people who suffer from obesity, and others.
Blood clotting is completely normal as a biological process. It’s specifically engineered to protect us from wounds that cause bleeding.
But it’s important to know the difference between everyday blood clots and dangerous, abnormal clots. Abnormal clots, such as DVT, clots occurring as a result of dialysis, or excessively large clots during menstruation should be addressed by a doctor or other medical professional.
And if you find that your blood clots too quickly or too slowly during bleeding, it may be due to the viscosity of your blood. Check out our list of foods that can thin or thicken your blood and create a healthier diet today.