What are Blood Clots?
Blood clots consist of blood cells and fibrin strands that form to stop the flow of blood after an injury. Blood clots are vital for wound healing.If blood was not able to clot, death would occur from excessive bleeding from a simple cut. Although blood clots are more common in adults, it is important to know that they can occur in children as well.
However, in certain conditions, the inappropriate formation of blood clots in vessels or organs of the body can occur, leading to a potentially extremely dangerous situation. When blood clots form within arteries and veins, they obstruct the flow of blood, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Blood clots formed after surgery or due to a traumatic injury may also be life-threatening.
There are several common areas where blood clots tend to form,
Peripheral venous disorder:
problems with the veins can cause blood clots to form.
an obstructing blood clot has formed, causing the surrounding vein to become inflamed.
a blood clot in coronary arteries leading to a heart attack.
Deep vein thrombosis:
blood clot formed in a deeper vein.
a blood clot in the lungs
Retinal vein occlusion:
blood clot in a vein of the eye
a blood clot in the near or within the anus.
People with low levels of iron
in the blood have a higher risk of dangerous blood clots, according to research recently published in the journal Thorax. A study of clotting risk factors in patients with an inherited blood vessel disease suggests that treating iron
deficiency might be important for preventing potentially lethal blood clots.
Each year, one in every 1,000 people in the United Kingdom is affected by deep vein thrombosis, blood clots that form in the veins. These can cause pain and swelling, but can also be fatal if the clot is dislodged and travels into the blood vessels of the lungs. Although some risk factors for blood clots are recognized, such as major surgery, immobility and cancer, often there is no clear reason for the blood clot.
To properly examine new risk factors for blood clots, scientists at Imperial College London studied patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). HHT is an inherited disease of the blood vessels, the main symptoms of which are excessive bleeding from the nose and gut. Previous research by the same group had found that HHT patients have a higher risk of blood clots, but the reason was not clear.
“Most of our patients who had blood clots did not have any of the known risk factors ,” explained the researchers from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London “We thought that studying people with HHT might tell us something important about the wider population.”
The research team analysed blood from 609 patients reviewed at the HHT clinic at
Hammersmith Hospital from 1999 to 2011, to look for differences between the patients who had blood clots and those who did not. Many of the patients had low iron levels because of iron
lost through bleeding.
The researchers found that low levels of iron in the blood were a strong risk factor for blood clots. Patients who took iron supplements
did not have higher risk, suggesting that treatment for iron deficiency
can prevent blood clots.”Our study shows that in people with HHT, low levels of iron
in the blood is a potentially treatable risk factor for blood clots,” the researchers said.
“There are small studies in the general population which would support these findings, but more studies are needed to confirm this. If the finding does apply to the general population, it would have important implications in almost every area of medicine.”
anemia is thought to affect at least 1 billion people worldwide. The association with blood clot risk might not have been found before because the iron
levels demonstrating the link fluctuate during the day, and other markers of iron deficiency
can be falsely high if other medical conditions are present.
The link between iron
levels and blood clots appears to be dependent on factor VIII, a blood protein which promotes normal clotting. High levels of factor VIII in the blood are also a strong risk factor for blood clots, and low iron
levels were strongly associated with higher levels of factor VIII. The gene encoding factor VIII has sites where iron
-binding proteins can bind, making it plausible that iron
levels could regulate the factor VIII gene, and that this might be the mechanism for the link.
The study was supported by the Imperial Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre, established with a grant from the National Institute of Health Research.
Story Source: Imperial College London.
“Low serum iron levels are associated with elevated plasma levels of coagulation factor VIII and pulmonary emboli/deep venous thromboses in replicate cohorts of patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia. Thorax” December 14, 2011
Imperial College London (2011, December 15). “Low iron levels in blood raises blood clot risk, new research suggests.”
This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional for medical and nutritional consultation.