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Definition Return to top
Bleeding disorders are a group of conditions in which there is a problem with the body's blood clotting process. These disorders can lead to heavy and prolonged bleeding after an injury. Bleeding can also begin on its own.
Causes Return to top
Normal blood clotting involves as many as 20 different plasma proteins, which are known as blood clotting or coagulation factors. These factors act together with other chemicals to form a substance called fibrin that stops bleeding.
Problems can occur when certain coagulation factors are low or missing. Bleeding problems can range from mild to severe.
Some bleeding disorders are present at birth and are passed through families (inherited). Others develop from:
Bleeding disorders can also result from having poorly working or too few of the blood cells that promote blood clotting (platelets). These disorders can also be either inherited or picked up (acquired). The side effects of certain drugs often lead to the acquired forms.
Symptoms Return to top
Which problems occur depends on the specific bleeding disorder.
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Treatment depends on the type of disorder. It may include:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome also depends on the disorder. Most primary bleeding disorders can be managed. Those due to diseases, such as DIC, depend on how well the disease is treated.
Possible Complications Return to top
Other complications can occur, depending on the disorder.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you notice any unusual or severe bleeding.
Prevention Return to top
Prevention depends on the specific disorder.
References Return to top
Kessler C. Hemorrhagic disorders: Coagulation factor deficiencies. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 180.Update Date: 3/2/2009 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.