Thick blood: what is it and what needs to be done
What does thick blood mean
Blood is a biological fluid consisting of liquid plasma, in which in certain quantities in suspension there are cells – red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, the so-called shaped elements. Due to them, blood has a certain density, or viscosity, which is defined as the ratio between these cells and blood plasma. This ratio is called hematocrit, or hematocrit. Normal hematocrit values are 0.40–0.48 for men and 0.36–0.46 for women.
When we say “thick blood”, we mean that it has increased viscosity, that is, the hematocrit is increased. Thick blood is not a disease in itself, but it indicates a dysfunction in the body and is called the “syndrome of increased blood viscosity.
Why does blood “thicken”
Blood thickening is caused by various reasons:
high in red blood cells or platelets;
increased blood coagulability;
large blood loss;
insufficient production of certain enzymes;
dehydration of the body;
acidosis (violation of acid-base balance);
increased work of the spleen;
excessive consumption of carbohydrates;
exposure to radiation.
Thick blood is possible with many pathologies. It:
vomiting and diarrhea;
diseases in which the protein content is increased;
High blood pressure may be a sign of increased blood viscosity.
How does thick blood appear
Sometimes the increased blood viscosity is not manifested by any symptoms, it is detected only during a blood test. But there are characteristic signs of trouble. True, they are not specific, that is, they can be observed in many pathological conditions. It:
weakness, fatigue, headaches;
low mood up to depressive;
high blood pressure;
in the legs a feeling of heaviness, the appearance of venous nodes;
in hands and feet a feeling of cold, numbness.
The danger of blood thickening
The greatest danger lies in the appearance of blood clots. Most often they form in small blood vessels, but there is a chance of blockage of the brain artery (stroke) or heart (myocardial infarction).
Increased blood viscosity causes hypertension, atherosclerosis.
If the platelet count decreases, then thick blood can cause bleeding.
Brain hemorrhages can also be consequences of blood clotting.
What studies will show thick blood
The syndrome of increased viscosity is determined by the results of a blood test:
a clinical blood test with a hematocrit value – includes the determination of the number and quality of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin of other elements;
coagulograms – includes indicators of blood coagulation, including blood coagulation time, prothrombin index;
activated partial thromboplastin time, or APTT, – this indicator is also included in the coagulogram and is the most sensitive. With its help, it is determined whether there are enough coagulation factors in the plasma.
What to do
How to treat thick blood? To pose the question in this way is not entirely correct. Increased viscosity is caused by completely different reasons, it is a sign of various diseases, including very serious ones. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is no general prescription on how to thin the blood.
For the prevention of heart attack and stroke, people at risk are recommended to use drugs containing aspirin. With a predisposition to thrombosis, anticoagulants are used. And with a tendency to bleeding, these drugs are strictly prohibited, since the main goal of treatment is to prevent bleeding.
In short, in each case of blood thickening, a specific treatment is required, which can only be prescribed by a specialist after a detailed examination.
In some cases, when the syndrome of increased viscosity is caused by temporary causes, for example, dehydration due to vomiting or diarrhea, it goes away as soon as the cause is eliminated. Sometimes the problem can be solved by drinking a sufficient amount of liquid (approximately 30 ml per kilogram of weight), preferably plain water.