Blood Clotting Disorder Treatment

When a person’s blood clots excessively, he is suffering from a condition known as hypercoagulation. Normally, a person’s blood clots to prevent him from losing excessive amounts of blood when he cuts himself or when another injury occurs. In a person who has hypercoagulation, the blood clots not only when injury has occurred but also when the blood is moving through the blood vessels.

Hypercoagulation can be a life-threatening condition. If a blood clot forms in the brain, it can cause a stroke. Likewise, a clot that forms in the heart can cause a heart attack. If a clot travels through your blood stream and becomes lodged in the lungs, pulmonary embolism can result. This condition is a leading cause of deaths in hospitals.

Often, blood clotting disorders will produce no symptoms. However, symptoms of blood clots may include the following, among other symptoms:

  • inflammation of a vein
  • skin discoloration
  • sudden pain in an arm or leg
  • tingling or numbness in the affected area.

Excessive blood clotting can be linked to genetics, or it can be caused by certain risk factors:

  • being confined to a bed for a long period of time
  • having cancer
  • having surgery
  • pregnancy
  • sitting in one position for a long period of time
  • taking birth control pills.

Although hypercoagulation can be life-threatening, the good news is that it can be treated. In this section, we’ll discuss the various medicines and methods doctors use to treat hypercoagulation. We’ll discuss pros and cons of each and also discuss the effectiveness of the treatments.

Coumadin®

Coumadin® is an anticoagulant that helps keep a person from forming clots in his blood. A doctor might prescribe Coumadin® to treat blood clots that:

  • are associated with an irregular and rapid heartbeat
  • are linked with heart-valve replacement surgery
  • occur in the legs and/or lungs.

In addition, Coumadin® can lower the risk of death in a person who has experienced a heart attack and can lower the person’s risk of suffering from another heart attack. Also, Coumadin® can reduce the risk of a blood clot from one part of the body to another.

People who are pregnant or who may become pregnant, people with certain blood diseases and people who suffer from senility or alcoholism should not take Coumadin®.

Heparin

Doctors often prescribe heparin injections to prevent blood clots from forming in patients who suffer from certain medical conditions and in those who will be undergoing certain medical procedures. Doctors will also prescribe heparin to stop blood clots that are already in the blood vessels from growing any larger. The drug, however, cannot decrease the size of clots that already exist.

Heparin must be injected into a vein. Sometimes, the drug will be injected up to six times in one day. In other cases, heparin is administered as a slow, continuous injection.

Side effects of heparin include redness, pain and bruising at the injection site. In addition, some patients experience hair loss from heparin.

Antiplatelet Drugs

Antiplatelet drugs are often used to prevent clots from forming or to keep an existing clot from growing larger. Antiplatelet drugs interact with platelets (a type of blood cell) to keep them from forming harmful clots.

Antiplatelet drugs include:

  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel
  • eptifibatide
  • ticolpidine
  • tirofiban.

People should see their doctor on a regular basis when taking antiplatelet drugs.

Resources

American Academy of Physicians (2006). Hypercoagulation: Excessive Blood Clotting. Retrieved September 20, 2007, from the Familydoctor.org Web site: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/blood/244.html.

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. (2007). Heparin Injection. Retrieved September 20, 2007, from the MedlinePlus Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/medmaster/a682826.html.

Bristol-Meyers Squibb Company (2005). Coumadin: For Consumers. Retrieved September 20, 2007, from the Comadin.com Web site: http://www.coumadin.com/coumadin/home/consumer_index.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes.

Ross-Flanigan, Nancy (2002). Anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs. Retrieved September 20, 2007, from the HealthAtoZ Web site: http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp?requestURI=/healthatoz/Atoz/ency/anticoagulant_and_antiplatelet_drugs.jsp.