Blood is a delicate balancing act, with the body constantly regulating oxygen flow, iron content and clotting ability. Unfortunately there are several genetic conditions and chronic illnesses that can disturb the balance, sometimes with deadly consequences.
This rare genetic blood disorder severely inhibits the clotting mechanism of blood,causing excessive bleeding, internal bruising and joint problems. Platelets are essential to the clotting and healing process, producing threads of fibrin with help from proteins in the bloodstream called clotting factors. People who suffer from haemophilia-almost exclusively males -are missing one of those clotting factors, making it difficult to seal off blood vessels after even minor injuries.
Sickle cell anaemia
Anaemia is the name for any blood disorder that results in a dangerously low red blood cell count. In sickle cell anaemia, which afflicts one out of every 625 children of African descent, red blood cells elongate into a sickle shape after releasing their oxygen. The sickle-shaped cells die prematurely, leading to anaemia, or sometimes lodge in blood vessels, causing terrible pain and even organ damage. Interestingly, people who carry only one gene for sickle cell anaemia are immune to malaria.
Another rare blood disorder affecting 100,000 newborns worldwide each year, thalassemia inhibits the production of haemoglobin, leading to severe anaemia. People who are born with the most serious form of the disease, also called Cooley’s anaemia, suffer from enlarged hearts, livers and spleens, and brittle bones. The most effective treatment is frequent blood transfusions, although a few lucky patients have been cured through bone marrow transplants from perfectly matching donors.
One of the most common genetic blood disorders, haemochromatosis is the medical term for “iron overload,” in which your body absorbs and stores too much iron from food. Severity varies wildly, and many people experience few symptoms, but others suffer serious liver damage or scarring (cirrhosis), irregular heartbeat, diabetes and even heart failure. Symptoms can be aggravated by taking too much vitamin C.
Deep vein thrombosis
Thrombosis is the medical term for any blood clot that is large enough to block a blood vessel. When a blood clot forms in the large, deep veins of the upper thigh, it’s called deep vein thrombosis. If such a clot breaks free, it can circulate through the bloodstream, pass through the heart and become lodged in arteries in the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism. Such a blockage can severely damage portions of the lungs, and multiple embolisms can even be fatal.
Blood and healing
More than a one-trick pony, your blood is a vital cog in the healing process!
Think of blood as the body’s emergency response team to an injury. Platelets emit signals that encourage blood vessels to contract, stemming blood loss. The platelets then collect around the wound, reacting with a protein in plasma to form fibrin, a tissue that weaves into a mesh. Blood flow returns and white blood cells begin their hunt for bacteria. Fibroblasts create beds of fresh collagen and capillaries to fuel skin cell growth. The scab begins to contract, pulling the growing skin cells closer together until damaged tissue is replaced.
When the skin surface is cut, torn or scraped deeply enough, blood seeps from broken blood vessels to fill the wound. To stem the flow of bleeding, the blood vessels around the wound constrict.
Activated platelets aggregate around the surface of the wound, stimulating vasoconstriction. Platelets react with a protein in plasma to form fibrin, a web-like mesh of stringy tissue.
3. INFLAMMATORY STAGE
Once the wound is capped with a drying clot, blood vessels open up again, releasing plasma and white blood cells into the damaged tissue. Macrophages digest harmful bacteria and dead cells.
4. PROLIFERATIVE STAGE
Fibroblasts lay fresh layers of collagen inside the wound and capillaries begin to supply blood for the forming of new skin cells. Fibrin strands and collagen pull the sides of the wound together.