What are the causes of Excessive Blood Clotting?

Updated at: Jan 12, 2013
What are the causes of Excessive Blood Clotting?

Excessive blood clotting has many causes. Problems with the blood, blood vessel defects, or other factors can cause the condition.

Editorial Team
Other DiseasesWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jan 12, 2013

To understand what causes excessive blood clotting, it helps to understand the body’s normal blood clotting process.

Normally, blood clots form to seal small cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding. After the bleeding has stopped and healing has occurred, the body breaks down and removes the clots.

Blood clotting is a complex process, but it mainly involves:

  • The inner layer of the cells lining the blood vessels. These cells play a major role in causing blood clots to form.
  • Clotting factors. These proteins help create a network of fibrin—another type of protein. Fibrin acts as glue to hold a blood clot together.
  • Platelets (PLATE-lets). These small blood cell fragments can stick together to form a clot.

Excessive blood clotting may occur if the body’s clotting process is altered or wrongly triggered. Blood clots can form in or travel to the arteries or veins in the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and limbs.

Certain diseases and conditions, genetic mutations, medicines, or other factors can cause excessive blood clotting.

Diseases and Conditions

A number of diseases and conditions can cause the blood to clot too much or prevent blood clots from dissolving properly. Certain diseases and conditions are more likely to cause clots to form in certain areas of the body.

Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome

This condition, also called APS, is an autoimmune disorder. If you have APS, your body makes antibodies (proteins) that attack phospholipids (fos-fo-LIP-ids)—a type of fat. Phospholipids are found in all living cells and cell membranes, including blood cells and the lining of blood vessels.

In APS, the antibodies trigger blood clots to form in the body’s arteries and veins—the vessels that carry blood to your heart and body. These blood clots can lead to a number of health problems, including frequent miscarriages.

APS is more common in women and people who have other autoimmune or rheumatic disorders, such as lupus.

Bone Marrow Disorders

Some bone marrow disorders can cause your body to make too many blood cells that can lead to blood clots. Examples of such disorders include polycythemia vera (POL-e-si-THE-me-ah VE-ra), or PV, and thrombocythemia (THROM-bo-si-THE-me-ah).

PV is a rare blood disease in which your body makes too many red blood cells. These extra red blood cells make your blood thicker than normal. This slows the flow of blood through your small blood vessels and can lead to blood clots.

Thrombocythemia is a condition in which your body makes too many platelets. The platelets can stick together to form blood clots.

Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura and Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation

Two rare, but serious conditions that can cause blood clots are thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (throm-BOT-ik throm-bo-cy-toe-PEE-nick PURR-purr-ah), or TTP, and disseminated intravascular clotting, or DIC.

TTP causes blood clots to form in the body's small blood vessels, including vessels in the brains, kidneys, and heart.

DIC is a rare complication of pregnancy, severe infections, or severe trauma. DIC causes tiny blood clots to form suddenly throughout the body.

Problems With Blood Clot Breakdown

After a blood clot has done its job, the body normally breaks down the fibrin that holds the clot together.

Several rare genetic and acquired conditions affect the fibrin network that holds blood clots together. Thus, the clots don...


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