LifeForce Hospitals

02.gif (21371 bytes)


Sticky Situations
platelet.gif (25582 bytes)

The human body does not handle excessive blood loss well. Therefore, the body has ways of
protecting itself. If, for some unexpected reason, sudden blood loss occurs, the blood platelets kick
into action.

Platelets are irregularly-shaped, colorless bodies that are present in blood. Their sticky surface lets
them, along with other substances, form clots to stop bleeding.

When bleeding from a wound suddenly occurs, the platelets gather at the wound and attempt to
block the blood flow. The mineral calcium, vitamin K, and a protein called fibrinogen help the
platelets form a clot.

A clot begins to form when the blood is exposed to air. The platelets sense the presence of air and
begin to break apart. They react with the fibrinogen to begin forming fibrin, which resembles tiny
threads. The fibrin threads then begin to form a web-like mesh that traps the blood cells within it. This
mesh of blood cells hardens as it dries, forming a clot, or "scab."

Calcium and vitamin K must be present in blood to support the formation of clots. If your blood is
lacking these nutrients, it will take longer than normal for your blood to clot. If these nutrients are
missing, you could bleed to death. A healthy diet provides most people with enough vitamins and
minerals, but vitamin supplements are sometimes needed.

A scab is an external blood clot that we can easily see, but there are also internal blood clots. A
bruise, or black-and-blue mark, is the result of a blood clot. Both scabs and bruises are clots that
lead to healing. Some clots can be extremely dangerous. A blood clot that forms inside of a blood
vessel can be deadly because it blocks the flow of blood, cutting off the supply of oxygen. A stroke
is the result of a clot in an artery of the brain. Without a steady supply of oxygen, the brain cannot
function normally. If the oxygen flow is broken, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sensory perceptions,
or even death may occur.

Home ] Up ]


Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 1999 LifeForce Hospitals Webserver Location Italy