Coagulation is one of the major characteristics of blood. The normal consistency of the blood is liquid but if placed for some time, it changes to gel finally converting into crusts. This process is called coagulation or clotting of blood. Coagulation is one of the protective phenomena of the body meant mainly for the prevention of loss of blood in case any blood vessel is damaged.
Normal physiology of blood coagulation
Blood coagulation is the property of platelets present in the human blood associated with and assisted by clotting factors.
- Whenever the endothelium of any blood vessel is damaged, platelets come to the rescue.
- The collagen present in the damaged endothelium comes in direct contact with the platelets activating the coagulation factor 8.
- This coagulation factor is also known as the Von Willebrand factor.
- This activates the coagulation pathway or coagulation cascade involving more clotting factors turn by turn catalyzing the coagulation process by bringing local changes in the endothelium of damaged blood vessels.
- Fibrinogen is produced which is mainly responsible for the clotting of blood into a gel-like consistency.
Importance of coagulation in blood
Coagulation, as mentioned earlier, is the protective phenomenon of the body and has a pivotal role to play in the immune system of the body. It is not just a way of stopping blood from being oozing and lost, it literally traps the microbes coming along the breached endothelium. It also activates a pathway and triggers other blood components to phagocytize the bacteria. Some of the inflammatory response is thus the credit of the coagulation pathway.
Clotting disorders/Bleeding disorders
Normal physiology of the coagulation pathway is sometimes disturbed, and usual abilities are changed. In some clotting disorders, the blood is unable to clot properly and in time resulting in undue and uncontrolled blood loss of the patient for example hemophilia, Von Willebrand disease, Bernard Soulier syndrome, and gray platelet syndrome.
Causes of clotting disorders
Most of the clotting disorders are congenital in nature and sometimes manifest in severe forms. Some of the most common genetic disorders of clotting are hemophilia. Hemophilia with its three sub-types is an autosomal recessive trait and hardly allows the affected individuals to cross the teenage of their life.
Patients on anticoagulant therapy may also suffer from a deranged clotting profile resulting in clotting problems. Such patients exhibit an increased tendency of bleeding and their clotting profile must be monitored regularly to keep them safe from excessive blood loss.
Blood coagulation tracker
A blood coagulation tracker is used especially for patients suffering from deranged clotting profiles due to congenital or acquired reasons mentioned above. It is also used for patients on anticoagulant therapy. PT, APTT, and INR are regularly monitored in such patients along with the dose of the anticoagulant they are taking.
INR or internationally normalized ratio is most important in assessing the clotting profile of such patients. This tracker is very useful in adjusting the dose of the drug and managing patients suffering from clotting disorders.