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Blood Disorders

Studying blood disorders

Blood Disorders are problems with the components of blood (red blood cells, white cells, platelets, plasma and the enzymes that control what the blood does).

There are different types of anemia. They include iron-deficiency anemia (when you do not have enough iron), vitamin-deficiency anemia (when you do not have enough of a vitamin like folic acid), aplastic anemia (when your body stops producing red blood cells), anemia associated with a chronic disease (when anemia results from a condition like kidney disease) and hemolytic anemia (when your body destroys red blood cells).

You may have anemia if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pallor (paleness of the skin)
  • Dizziness
  • Coldness in your hands and/or feet
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Pounding or “whooshing” in your ears

You might also be at greater risk for developing anemia if you have any of the following chronic conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)

Polycythemia vera is a blood disorder in which your bone marrow makes too many red blood cells. It may also result in the production of too many of the other types of blood cells – white blood cells and platelets. But it’s the excess red blood cells that thicken your blood and cause most of the concerns associated with Polycythemia vera.

A low white blood cell count, or Leukopenia, indicates a decrease in the disease-fighting cells (leukocytes) that circulate in your blood.

Leukocytosis is frequently found in the course of routine laboratory testing. An elevated white blood cell count typically reflects the normal response of bone marrow to an infectious or inflammatory process.

Thrombocytopenia is the medical term for a low blood platelet count. Platelets are the colorless blood cells that play an important role in blood clotting. They stop blood loss by clumping together and forming plugs in blood vessel holes. If for any reason your blood platelet count falls below normal, this is called thrombocytopenia.

Thrombocytosis is a disorder in which your body produces too many platelets. Reactive Thrombocytosis occurs in response to an underlying condition.

Bleeding disorders result when the blood cannot clot properly. In normal clotting, platelets stick together and form a plug at the site of an injured blood vessel. Proteins in the blood called clotting factors then interact to form a fibrin clot. The fibrin clot holds the platelets in place and allows healing to occur at the site of the injury while preventing blood from escaping the blood vessel. While too much clotting can lead to heart attack and stroke, the inability to form clots can also be dangerous, as it can result in excessive bleeding.

Hemophilia is perhaps the best-known bleeding disorder, although it is relatively rare and affects mostly males. Many more people are affected by von Willebrand disease, the most common bleeding disorder in the U.S.

Blood clotting, or coagulation, is an important process that prevents excessive bleeding when a blood vessel is injured. Platelets and proteins in your plasma (the liquid part of blood) work together to stop the bleeding by forming a clot over the injury.

Typically, your body will naturally dissolve the blood clot after the injury has healed. Sometimes, however, clots form on the inside of vessels without an obvious injury or do not dissolve naturally. These situations can be dangerous and require accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Myeloproliferative disorders are a group of conditions that cause blood cells – platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells – to grow abnormally in the bone marrow.

In myelodysplastic syndromes or myelodysplasia, the stem cells (master cells from which all other specialized cells are formed) within bone marrow don’t mature or function properly, leading to a lack of healthy cells and to potentially life-threatening complications.

Hypercoaguable Statesis a condition in which there is an abnormally increased tendency toward blood clotting (coagulation). There are numerous hypercoagulable states. Each has different causes and each increases a person's chances of developing blood clots such as those associated with thrombophlebitis (clot in the veins).
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