A blood clot is a life-threatening medical emergency. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking prompt care is crucial. Lumps in the veins of the legs, groin, and arms can travel to other organs, like the lungs, if they break loose. In such a case, your life may be in jeopardy.

This article explains how to recognize and treat a blood clot, what signs to look out for, and what to do if you experience adverse reactions to your medicine.

What are blood clotting disorders?

In human blood, platelets are responsible for clotting when blood is cut; platelets and other proteins in the blood clump together to produce a blockage at the site of the wound.

Disorders of blood coagulation result from a malfunction in the body’s normal clotting mechanisms. When an injury occurs, blood clots form to stop the flow of blood and stem the further loss of blood.

However, a clotting disease can cause either an inability of the blood to clot properly, leading to excessive bleeding, or the formation of blood clots in the absence of injury. Extremely low or high blood clotting times might be fatal consequences of coagulation disorders.

What factors cause blood clotting disorders?

Blood clotting diseases happen when there are abnormally high or low levels of platelets or when there is a lack of coagulating proteins or factors. Most cases of hypercoagulability can be traced back to either a hereditary (passed down from parents) or acquired/environmental cause.

When this condition is inherited, it causes a predisposition to blood clot formation from birth. Surgery, trauma, drugs, or a preexisting medical condition can all raise the chance of clot formation, and these factors are common contributors to acquired disorders.

Examples of genetic or inherited blood coagulation disorders include:

  • Factor V Leiden mutation
  • Proteins C and S
  • Prothrombin gene mutation
  • Abnormal fibrinolytic system.
  • Elevated levels of factors VIII, IX, and XI.

Acquired causes of blood clotting include:

  • HIV
  • Liver infections
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain cancers
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Recent surgery or trauma
  • Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.
  • Hormone replacement therapy

Diseases that cause abnormal coagulation of the blood

The blood has trouble clotting normally in several conditions associated with blood coagulation. In the event of an injury or operation, such people risk life-threatening blood loss.

Image alt text: blood clotting disorder. A medical illustration of a blood clotting process.

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However, there are also clotting diseases in which the blood coagulates excessively, leading to blood coagulation clots within the veins or arterial walls. This can disrupt blood supply, leading to stroke, heart attack, and sometimes even death.

Disorders where the body is unable to produce enough clots to stop bleeding include:

  • Haemophilia
  • Von Willebrand’s disease

Instances of abnormal blood clotting include:

  • Deep venous thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE)
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)

Here is a detailed discussion of the various blood clotting disorders:

Causes, symptoms, and treatment of Haemophilia

Hemophilia is an uncommon disorder in which there is a deficiency of blood-clotting proteins, resulting in abnormal bleeding (clotting factors). Hemophiliacs may experience more prolonged bleeding after an accident than those with regular blood clotting times.

Generally speaking, little cuts don’t require much attention. Bleeding internal organs is a major issue in those with a severe illness, particularly in the joints (knees, wrists, and elbows). Damage to vital organs and tissues due to internal bleeding is an extreme medical emergency.

Causes of Haemophilia

It is usual for the blood cells to gather at the site of a wound and make a clot to halt the bleeding. Blood clots are formed by platelets and a group of proteins called clotting factors. Hemophilia develops when blood clotting factors are deficient or absent.

Congenital or heredity hemophilia: Most cases of hemophilia are hereditary, meaning that affected individuals have always been born with the disease (congenital). Levels of specific clotting factors are responsible for different types of congenital hemophilia.

Acquired hemophilia: It is possible to get hemophilia without a known carrier in your family. And this is referred to as “acquired hemophilia.” The condition occurs when your immune system mistakenly assaults the blood clotting factors 8 and 9.

It may also be linked to pregnancy, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and reactions to certain drugs.

Possible risks of hemophilia

Having a close relative with hemophilia is the most significant predictor of developing the disease. There is a significant gender gap in the prevalence of hemophilia, with men being affected more frequently than women.

Complications of hemophilia

Hemophilia can lead to a variety of complications, including:

Major internal bleeding: Experiencing deep muscular bleeding might lead to limb swelling. The nerves may become pinched due to the swelling and become numb or painful. If the bleeding is severe enough and in the wrong place, it could be fatal.

Negative reaction to the use of a clotting factor: Severe hemophilia is characterized by an adverse reaction of the immune system to clotting agents used to control bleeding. This reduces treatment efficacy because the immune system produces proteins that inhibit the coagulation factors from doing their job.

Infection: Clotting agents used to manage hemophilia are more likely to transmit deadly pathogens or viruses like hepatitis C is derived from human blood. The threat is minimal as a result of donor screening procedures.

Joint injuries: Pressure from internal bleeding on the joints can be extremely painful. Untreated, chronic internal bleeding may lead to joint degeneration and eventual arthritis.

Symptoms of Haemophilia

Hemophilia symptoms change from person to person because of differences in clotting factor production. Mildly decreased clotting factors may only cause bleeding during or after trauma or surgery, and an extreme deficiency can cause unexpected bleeding at any time.

Image alt text: blood clotting disorder. An image of a blood clot disorder.

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Some of the warning signs of unintentional bleeding are:

  • Significant or profound bruises
  • Discolored feces or pee
  • Undiagnosed nose bleeds
  • Unexplained irritability in babies
  • Discomfort, redness, and swelling of the joints
  • Abnormal bruising and bleeding after immunization

You may also experience injury to the brain due to bleeding.

Some persons with severe hemophilia are in danger of bleeding in the brain from even a minor head injury. This is one of the worst possible problems, yet it infrequently happens. Among the symptoms, you can notice the following:

  • Double vision
  • Terrible, persistent head pain
  • Shaking or convulsing; seizure
  • Emergence of unexpected frailty or clumsiness

Von Willebrand’s disease: Causes and symptoms

In people with von Willebrand disease, the blood never fully clots, making the condition permanent. The disease is characterized by either a lack of the blood clotting protein von Willebrand factor or impaired function of this protein.

Causes of Von Willebrand’s disease

Typically, Von Willebrand disease is caused by a defective gene passed down through families that regulates von Willebrand factor, a protein essential for regular blood clotting.

Platelets are a type of blood cell that helps repair damaged blood vessels by sticking together and attaching to them. However, platelets fail to complete their job after an injury if this protein is absent or not functioning correctly. This causes problems with blood coagulation and can lead to excessive bleeding.

Signs and symptoms of Von Willebrand’s disease

The symptoms of von Willebrand disease are subtle or nonexistent; therefore, many people living with it are unaware they have it. Abnormal bleeding is a common symptom of the illness.

The disease can generally be broken down into three categories. What causes bleeding and how much it bleeds depends on the kind and extent of the illness.

The categories of VWD include:

Type 1 is the most prevalent and least severe form: Those who suffer from type 1 von Willebrand disease have abnormally low concentrations of the VWD factor in their blood. Bleeding is typically only an issue during surgical procedures, after receiving an injury, or after a tooth is extracted.

Type 2– People who have type 2 VWD have a malfunctioning von Willebrand factor. Most people with type experience more frequent and severe bleeding than those with type 1.

Type 3 is the worst and least expected, characterized by undetectable or shallow levels of the von Willebrand factor. Injury can cause bleeding in the joints and muscles as well as the mouth, nose, and digestive tract.

Generally, people with VWD may show symptoms like:

  • Mild or severe bruising
  • Trace amounts of blood in the feces or urine 
  • Nose bleeding that won’t cease for even 10 minutes
  • Abnormally large amounts of blood loss following an injury, operation, or dental procedure

Women may have:

  • Persistent or excessive menstrual bleeding
  • Excessive bleeding during childbirth

What are the risk factors of VWD?

Having a close relative with VWD is the most significant risk factor. The faulty gene is passed down from parents to offspring. Rarely does the illness pass from parent to child.

Most cases of this illness are “autosomal dominant inherited,” meaning they are passed down across generations thanks to a single faulty gene. There is a 50% risk that carriers of the von Willebrand disease gene will pass it on to their offspring.

Autosomal recessive describes the most severe type of disease, which requires the transmission of a defective gene from both parents.

Complications of VWD

Uncontrolled bleeding is a rare but potentially fatal complication of von Willebrand’s disease. In addition to these symptoms, VWD can also cause:

  • Anemia. Iron deficiency anemia can occur due to heavy menstrual flow.
  • Discomfort and swelling. This may happen if there is excessive bleeding in tendons or ligaments.

Prevention of VWD

Even if you don’t show any signs of von Willebrand disease, you can pass the gene on to your children. Therefore, those with a history of VWD in their families should seriously consider seeking genetic counseling before starting a family.

Causes and Symptoms of Pulmonary embolism (PE)

Pulmonary embolism is a condition that happens when blood clots form in an artery leading to the lungs; they can cut off the blood supply to that organ. Most pulmonary embolisms begin in a deep vein inside the leg and proceed to the lung.

In other words, pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot or clots prevent blood from reaching the lungs. However, the mortality rate can be drastically lowered with urgent medical attention. To reduce the risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, taking precautions against the formation of blood clots in the legs is essential.

In rare cases, items besides blood clots might obstruct blood vessels.

  • Puffs of air
  • A fragment of a tumor
  • Internal adipose tissue from a severed limb

Risk Factors of Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition caused by a clot in the bloodstream, although certain people are more at risk than others.

Blood clotting history: If you, or a close relative, has ever suffered from a pulmonary embolism or venous blood clot, you are at a greater risk of developing one yourself.

Medical conditions and their therapies: Having medical issues or receiving specific treatments can put you in danger. These conditions may include the following:

  • Coronary illness: Clot formation is more probable in patients with blood vessel and cardiovascular disorders, especially heart failure.
  • Surgery: Blood clots are a common complication of surgery. As a result, anticoagulant medication may be prescribed prior to and following significant operations like joint replacement.
  • Conditions affecting blood coagulation: The propensity of the blood to clot is increased in some hereditary illnesses. Conditions like renal illness amplify the danger of blood clots.
  • Cancer: Certain cancers, like those of the brain, ovary, pancreatic, colon, lung, kidney, and stomach, as well as metastatic tumors, are all associated with an increased risk of blood clots.

Other risk factors include:

Long stretches of inactivity: Clots in the bloodstream are more prone to form during prolonged times of inactivity, such as those experienced by people who are:

Bed rest: Clots can form in the blood if you have to stay in bed for a long time due to conditions like surgery, a heart attack, a broken leg, trauma, or a major disease.

There is a risk of blood pooling in the legs if you sit or lie in one position for extended periods because your veins won’t drain blood as efficiently. In rare cases, this may cause blood clots.

Carrying extra pounds: Being overweight increases your likelihood of blood clots, especially in those with other risk factors like a heart attack.

Complications of Pulmonary Embolism

Having a pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency. Untreated pulmonary embolisms kill about one-third of those who suffer from them. However, this number decreases considerably when the problem is detected and treated quickly.

It’s a leading cause of pulmonary hypertension

Too much pressure in the pulmonary arteries and the heart’s right ventricle can be caused by a pulmonary embolism. The heart has to pump more challenges to get blood around obstructions in the pulmonary arteries. As your blood pressure rises, your heart’s strength decreases.

Scarring of the pulmonary arteries and the persistence of tiny clots called emboli are both extraordinarily unusual but possible outcomes. The result is persistent pulmonary hypertension due to the reduced blood supply.

Preventing Pulmonary Embolism

To reduce the risk of a pulmonary embolism, it is important to avoid developing blood clots in the venous system of your legs. Because of this, most healthcare facilities take extensive precautions to eliminate the possibility of a patient developing a blood clot, such as:

Being Active

Surgery patients who get up and about immediately after surgery have a lower risk of developing pulmonary embolism and a quicker recovery time. For this reason, your physician may insist that you get up and move around the surgical ward on the day of your surgery, despite the agony you may be experiencing.

Even better, studies reveal that walking daily helps reduce heart complications by cutting weight, a risk factor for various blood clotting disorders.

Pneumatic compression

The plan involves using thigh- or calf-high cuffs to automatically inflate and deflate every few minutes. This stimulates blood flow by massaging and squeezing your leg veins.

Compression stockings

Compression stockings work by gradually squeezing the legs, stimulating blood flow in the veins and muscles of the legs. They provide a low-risk, low-maintenance, low-cost solution for preventing post-operative blood accumulation in the legs.

Using anticoagulants or blood thinners

Patients at risk of blood clots receive these medications before and after surgical procedures. Furthermore, they are commonly administered to hospitalized patients suffering from a heart attack, stroke, or cancer-related problems.

Preventing pulmonary embolism while traveling

While the chance of forming a blood clot on a flight is modest overall, it rises significantly for those flying for an extended period. Consult your doctor before booking any trips that may put you at risk of developing a blood clot.

Your doctor may recommend the following measures to reduce the risk of blood clots while you’re traveling:

Keep your body hydrated by drinking lots of water. Dehydration can lead to blood clotting. Fortunately, taking a lot of water may help prevent such incidents. It would help if you also moved around and in your seat or used support stockings to help improve food movement and circulation in your legs.

Diagnosis of various blood clotting disorders

During a physical examination, your doctor will check for bruises, bumps, and swelling. To rule out a bleeding disorder in your family’s history, he will inquire about yours. In the event that you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you must consult your doctor immediately.

Suppose your doctor has reason to suspect that you have a coagulation disease based on the symptoms of the various disorders above. In that case, they will likely order additional tests to verify the diagnosis.

Some diagnostic procedures for coagulation abnormalities include:

D-dimer test: This test evaluates the level of D-dimer- a protein fragment left behind when a clot breaks apart. If your D-dimer values are high, you might have blood clotting problems.

Blood factor test: This test is performed to determine the deficiencies in any clotting factor which might lead to abnormal clotting.

Complete blood count test: Because of the importance of blood clotting, a complete blood count (CBC) is often prescribed to check for red blood cell and platelet abnormalities.

Your doctor may also conduct the following:

  • Genetic tests to determine any hereditary disorders
  • VWD test: to check for the absence of the von Willebrand factor, which is necessary for blood clotting.

Remedy for Blood Clotting Disorders

The degree and kind of bleeding issue dictate the treatment strategy. Since blood clotting diseases cannot be treated, treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms.

Some of the management strategies include:

Transfusion: Blood transfusions replace blood lost due to severe bleeding caused by a clotting issue. For instance, fresh frozen plasma transfusion is used to treat patients who are missing factors V or VIII.

When clotting factors are lacking, factor replacement treatment, which involves injecting concentrated clotting factors, is used to treat clotting disorders.


Receiving treatment for your blood clotting condition promptly can save your life. If you see any indications or symptoms that could point to a problem with coagulation, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.