Blood coagulation or ‘clotting’ is a normal process by which blood thickens (and then dries when it is exposed to air). This happens to prevent excessive blood los when minor cuts or punctures happen to the skin. The result of this process is a scab. We are all familiar with scabs. Although they are not necessarily fun, they are a normal occurrence that actually helps the healing process. Imagine, however, if this were to happen to the blood on the inside of the body. Coagulation or clotting that occurs in the blood vessels, (also called thrombosis), can stop blood flow to vital organs, and even travel to the brain, heart, or lungs. Clots that travel to these places can cause stroke, heart attack, and even death. It can also be extremely dangerous if your blood does not coagulate or clot quickly enough. If your blood is unable to clot, you can experience excessive blood loss from minor cuts or injuries.
The idea behind blood coagulation testing is fairly simple, the purpose being to measure the time it takes for your blood to clot, and the ability that it has to clot. Blood coagulation tests and interpretations can help to identify various different clotting disorders. Coagulation tests also measure certain proteins and their ability to function. A coagulation profile test is much like other blood tests in that there is an average range that most people fall into, and each person will test at their own unique level. Three common causes for coagulation problems include liver disease, thrombophilia, and hemophilia. Thrombophilia is when the blood clots excessively, while hemophilia is when the blood is unable to clot. There are many medications that can cause one of these, therefore, many individuals are required to have coagulation tests performed on a routine basis as a form of precautionary monitoring.
Some of the more common types of coagulation tests include a Complete Blood Count (CBC), a Factor V Assay, a Fibrinogen Level test, a Prothrombin Time test, a Platelet Count, a Thrombin Time test, and a Bleeding Time test. A CBC is often taken at an annual or routine check up. This test can show if you are anemic or have a low platelet count. The Factor V Assay measures your Factor V, which is a substance in the blood which is involved in the clotting process. The Fibrinogen test involves a protein made by the liver. Prothrombin Time testing also tests a protein produced by the liver. Testing platelets literally means that a count of platelets is assessed and can determine if you have too many or not enough for your blood to clot properly. The Thrombin Time test checks the functioning of the fibrinogen, and the Bleeding Time test measures the time it takes for your small vessels to close and stop bleeding. Coagulation tests are mostly performed like other blood tests. Blood will be drawn from the hand or arm and the area will be cleaned and bandaged after the test. Some individuals will be asked to temporarily discontinue the use of medication for a short time leading up to the test.
Coagulation tests are very common and aid in the diagnosis and monitoring of many various conditions. Though very simple, and fairly straightforward, coagulation tests and their interpretations can have an intricate meaning in the big pictures of care and treatment for many conditions. Bass Advanced Urgent Care offers coagulation testing, and excellent, professional, service when administering these tests. It is important to know your body and its functionality. Your blood and its ability to function is no exception.