Hypercoagulable states

Definition

Hypercoagulable state is a condition in which you are more likely to develop blood clots. Blood clots can develop in either arteries or veins.

See also:

Alternative Names

Thromboembolic states; Factor V Leiden; Prothrombin mutation 20210A

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Hypercoagulable states fall into two groups:

  • Inherited
  • Acquired

Inherited means you are born with the tendency to form abnormal blood clots. Common inherited conditions that affect clotting are factor V Leiden and the prothrombin mutation 20210A. Rare inherited conditions include protein C, protein S, and antithrombin III deficiencies.

Acquired means you develop the tendency to form abnormal blood clots later in life. Some medical situations can lead to the formation of abnormal blood clots. These include cancer, recent surgery or trauma, obesity, liver or kidney disease, and use of certain medications.

Situations that can lead to the formation of blood clots include prolonged bedrest, dehydration, poor positioning (such as crossing the legs), sitting for long periods (such as in a plane or car), and long-term use of an intravenous catheter.

Women who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy are more likely to develop blood clots. This risk is greatly increased in those who also smoke. The time before, during, and after pregnancy also increases the risk of clots.

References

Schafer AI. Thrombotic disorders: hypercoagulable states. In Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 182.

Revision

Last reviewed 10/6/2010 by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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