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Bleeding diathesis is a disorder that involves the tendency to hemorrhage, or bleed. Hypocoagulability, which is abnormal clotting of the blood, causes this condition. There are actually several types of bleeding diathesis, ranging from mild to severe. The condition is also known as bleeding tendency or predisposition.
The occurrence is traced to coagulopathy. Also known as clotting disorder or bleeding disorder, it denotes the inability of the blood to form clots in a normal manner. Hypocoagulability is a type of coagulopathy, occurring when blood clotting is too slow.
Hypocoagulability results in the reduction of platelets, which are involved in the blood clotting process. This in turn leads to excessive bleeding. Two factors that can also contribute to this disorder are Cushing's syndrome, or thinning of the skin; and the inability of the body to heal wounds quickly, scurvy being a cause of this.
Acquired forms of bleeding diathesis can be triggered by conditions such as leukemia. This is cancer of the blood or bone marrow that involves the reduction of blood platelets. Additionally, a deficiency of Vitamin K is known to cause massive uncontrolled bleeding.
Bleeding diathesis can also be genetic. Some people do not have the genes necessary for producing coagulation elements. Two prime examples of genetic disorders linked to coagulopathy are hemophilia and von Willebrand disease (vWD).
Hemophilia is a collection of hereditary genetic disorders characterized by lowered levels of blood plasma-clotting factors. vWD, the most common genetic coagulation disorder, concerns the reduction of a multimeric protein needed for platelet adhesion. It is named for the Finnish internist who first described the condition. Much rarer genetic forms of the disorder include Bernard-Soulier syndrome, Glanzmann's thrombasthenia and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.
The most common symptom is purpura, which is a red or purple spot that occurs when capillaries underneath the skin burst. They can also be called petechiae or ecchymoses, depending on their size. Other signs include excessive nose bleeding, bleeding in the gums, and blood in the stool.
Treatment of bleeding diathesis can vary, since there are different types of the disorder, although all methods are alike in that they aim to reduce the amount of bleeding. Some treatments include plasma exchange therapy, anticoagulants and platelet transfusions. From these treatments, patients may experience complications such as soft tissue bleeding; anemia, or reduction of the red blood cell count; and cerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding in the brain.