Blood Clotting Disorders
Blood Clotting Disorders

Blood Clotting Disorders Causes

What causes blood clotting disorders?

Blood clotting disorders occur when blood forms clots more often than it is supposed to. Your body maintains normal blood flow because of a balance of molecules called “procoagulant factors” and “anticoagulant factors.” Procoagulant factors help blood clots form, and anticoagulant factors prevent blood clots. Any imbalance of these factors can lead to a blood clotting disorder.

Many things can upset the balance of these factors.

Inherited blood disorders are caused by changes in the structures of your genes (called mutations) before you are born.

Causes of acquired blood clotting disorders include:

  • Another condition, such as cancer, obesity, or an autoimmune disorder, like lupus
  • Not moving for long periods of time, such as after surgery or if you are put on bed rest during pregnancy
  • Some medicines to treat cancer or bleeding disorders
  • A vitamin deficiency in B6, B12, or folate that can cause high levels of an amino acid called homocysteine
  • Infection, such as sepsis, HIV, or SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19

COVID-19 can trigger abnormal blood clots in some people. Learn more about why this happens.

Can blood clotting disorders be prevented?

You cannot prevent blood clotting disorders that are inherited, and you may not be able to prevent a clotting disorder that is acquired. However, even if you have a clotting disorder, you may not ever develop a blood clot.

Talk to your doctor about steps to help prevent blood clots if you are at risk.

Adopt healthy lifestyle changes

  • Choose healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as a part of a heart-healthy eating plan.
  • Be physically active to help your blood circulate and prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • Quit smoking. Over time, smoking cigarettes can change the surface of the platelets in your blood and make them more likely to stick together and form blood clots.
  • Manage stress to lower your chance of developing risk factors for blood clots, like high blood pressure.

Avoid certain medicines

Some medicines increase your risk of blood clots, including hormone replacement therapy for menopause and birth control pills with estrogen. Talk to your doctor about all the over-the-counter medicines you take.

Talk to your doctor before any planned surgeries

Blood clots can happen during surgery and while you are recovering from surgery. To prevent clotting, your doctor may give you blood thinners to take after the surgery or procedure.

Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

Some blood clotting disorders can be harmful to you or your pregnancy. Your doctor will go over the risks with you and provide a treatment plan for your specific circumstances.

Research for your health

The NHLBI funds research to learn more about factors and conditions that may increase your risk of blood clotting disorders.

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