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Video: The Blood Clotting System
The blood clotting system
There are a variety of clotting factors in the blood. These are proteins produced by the liver, which are an important part of the blood fluid (blood plasma). Most blood coagulation factors are involved in the occurrence of blood coagulation - ie in the formation of the blood clot - e.g. in the case of injuries.
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How does blood clotting work?
In addition to the coagulation factors involved in the formation of blood clots, there are also those with the opposite effect. These are anticoagulant substances. These substances include antithrombin III, protein C and protein S. All of these substances are, among other things, responsible for controlling blood clotting. Because uncontrolled activation of blood clotting would be life-threatening. Due to the large number of different blood clotting factors, there are also a number of possibilities in which blood clotting disorders can start.
Blood coagulation fulfills a vital protective function of the body. In order for hemostasis to work correctly, e.g. after an injury, an interplay of various factors is important in the body - namely:
- Platelets (thrombocytes - they are made in the bone marrow)
- Blood coagulation factors (proteins produced in the liver which are an important part of the blood fluid - the blood plasma) - and the
- Blood vessel wall (this is such that, under normal circumstances, there is no activation of blood clotting).
Blood clotting tests
There are a number of tests used in laboratory medicine to check blood clotting. There are numerous tests to determine whether the blood clots normally, too quickly or too slowly.
In the following situations, the blood coagulation must be checked to determine whether the blood is clotting too slowly (risk of bleeding):
- before operations,
- if you have liver disease (as blood clotting factors are formed in the liver),
- if a congenital or acquired tendency to bleed is suspected (haemophilia; those affected are popularly referred to as hemophiliacs) and
- to control an anticoagulant treatment - the so-called "oral anticoagulation treatment" with drugs from the group of vitamin K antagonists (such as Marcoumar® or Sintrom®).
However, there are also diseases in which the blood coagulates too quickly and "vascular blockages" (thrombi) form. Such disorders are summarized under the term “tendency to thrombosis”. This is much more common than a tendency to bleed. The greatest danger of thrombi is that they can get to the heart via the blood vessel system and ultimately to the lungs or brain. Such a detached part of a thrombus is called an “embolus” - the disease is called an embolism. This can be life-threatening due to the blockage of important lungs and brain vessels. For more information on the tendency to thrombosis - including preventive measures - see Thrombosis tendency: diagnosis and therapy.
Note Comprehensive information on individual blood coagulation values can be found under laboratory values table.