Blood Clotting Disorder Bleeding Treatment Stimulating Clotting

For most of us, a small bump, cut or scrape is nothing to worry about. Bleeding stops on its own through the natural process of coagulation, or blood clotting. Proteins in the blood called clotting factors and platelets (a type of blood cell) help to form blood clots that stop our bleeding quickly.

For those with bleeding disorders, the clotting process does not work as it should. Therefore, people with bleeding disorders face risk even from minor injury, especially if any internal bleeding is involved. Luckily, there are medications and treatments available to stimulate clotting factors and greatly improve the quality of life for those affected.

Types of Bleeding Disorders

Probably the most well-known bleeding disorder is hemophilia, which comes in three forms: types A, B and C. Each describes the lack of a different clotting factor. Hemophilia is a genetic condition. Types A and B are generally passed only from mother to son. Type C can occur in both boys and girls and can be passed on by either parent. Symptoms of hemophilia include:

  • bleeding heavily after dental work, surgery or cuts
  • bloody urine or stools
  • bruising easily.

Von Willebrand Disease is the most commonly occurring of all bleeding disorders. It affects 1 percent to 2 percent of all people and is seen as often in women as in men. Some symptoms of von Willebrand Disease are:

  • bleeding gums
  • blood in urine and stools
  • bruising easily
  • heavy bleeding after surgery and dental work
  • lengthy and heavy periods in women
  • nosebleeds that are lasting and frequent.

Treatments for Healthy Clotting

Many treatments are available that stimulate blood clotting. Some possible treatments include:

  • clot-stabilizing medicines
  • desmopressin
  • fibrin sealants
  • oral contraceptives
  • replacement therapies.

Clot-Stabilizing Medicines

Clot-stabilizing, or antifibrinolytic, medications, such as Amicar® and Cyklokapron®, help to keep a clot in place once it has been formed in the body. They work by slowing the breakdown of clotting factors in the blood.

Often prescribed before surgery or dental procedures, these medicines can be injected into a vein or taken as pills. People taking clot-stabilizing medicines may experience:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • gastrointestinal discomfort.

Desmopressin

Desmopressin is a synthetic hormone that stimulates the release of clotting factors already stored in the lining of the blood vessels. It can be prescribed as an intra-venous (in the vein) or subcutaneous (under the skin) injection or as a nasal spray.

Desmopressin is used to stop heavy periods and nosebleeds and can also be used preventively to avoid heavy bleeding during surgery. It can also be used in the treatment of mild hemophilia A. Some possible side effects include:

  • abdominal cramping
  • facial flushing
  • mild headaches.

Fibrin Sealants

For controlling external bleeding from an injury, fibrin sealants can be used by people with all types of bleeding disorders.

Fibrin sealants are applied directly to a cut and act as a glue to help stop bleeding.

Oral Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives find another important use in the treatment of bleeding disorders. The estrogen they contain helps increase levels of certain clotting factors and can control excessive menstrual bleeding. Oral contraceptives are effective for woman with various bleeding disorders.

Mild side effects of oral contraceptives may include:

  • bleeding between periods
  • breast tenderness
  • moodiness
  • weight gain.

Some rare but more serious complications that could occur include:

  • heart attack (especially in smokers)
  • stroke
  • venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the veins).

Replacement Therapies

One effective way to stimulate clotting is through the use of replacement therapies. These treatments are used for all bleeding disorders and are often prescribed when other treatments have failed.

Replacement therapies involve infusions of blood clotting factors and/or plasma. These can be taken from donated human blood or genetically engineered. Possible side effects include:

  • chills
  • fever
  • flushing
  • hives
  • nausea.

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (n.d.). Personalized Medication Management for Bleeding Disorders (Hemophilia). Retrieved September 21, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.org/specialty-pharmacy/hemophilia.html.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) (n.d.). Von Willebrand Disease. Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved September 21, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://mayoclinic.com/health/von-willebrand-disease/DS00903/DSECTION=2.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) (n.d.). Von Willebrand Disease. Treatment. Retrieved September 21, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://mayoclinic.com/health/von-willebrand-disease/DS00903/DSECTION=8.

National Woman’s Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC) (n.d.). Birth Control Pills. Retrieved September 21, 2007, from the healthywomen.org Web site: http://www.healthywomen.org/healthtopics/birthcontrolpills/q/L2/112/L1/3/.

The Haemophilia Society (n.d.). Treating Bleeding Disorders. Retrieved September 21, 2007, from the Young Bloods Web site: http://www.youngbloods.org.uk/tn2/treatment/treatmentsummary.htm.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (n.d.). Bleeding Disorders. Retrieved September 21, 2007, from the womenshealth.gov Web site: http://www.4women.gov/faq/bleed.htm#treatment.