Inability to Control Formation of Blood Clots

Blood clotting, also called coagulation, is a normal process that occurs when platelets and proteins in your blood clump together and forms a blood clot. The process helps your body control bleeding and heal broken blood vessels. When healing is complete, your body breaks down the clot, it dissolves and is removed.

A blood clotting disorder, called a thrombophilia, causes blood clots to form easily and prevents them from dissolving properly. If a blood clot forms inside or travels to arteries or veins in your heart, brain, lungs, kidneys or limbs, it can block blood flow and cause serious damage or even death.

There are two categories of blood clotting disorders:

  • Acquired disorders are caused by a different condition or illness.
  • Genetic disorders are inherited and present at birth.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

When a blood clot blocks the flow of blood, it’s called a thrombotic episode. The symptoms of a thrombotic episode vary depending on where the block is located.

Blood clots may form in and around your heart, leading to a heart attack. Pieces of a blood clot can break free and create an embolus that blocks blood flow to arteries in other organs such as your brain or kidneys.

If the clot is located in the deep vein of your leg, it's called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Common symptoms include:

  • Discoloration
  • Leg pain or tenderness
  • Leg swelling

If the clot is in your lungs, it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE). Common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain that worsens with a deep breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Sudden difficulty breathing

Specialized bloodwork is often used to diagnose blood clotting disorders. Blood tests may include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) – the size and number of red and white blood cells and platelets
  • Partial thromboplastin time (PTT) – is a specialized test for blood clotting 
  • Platelet aggregation test – determines how well your platelets clump to form blood clots
  • Prothrombin time (PT) – measures how long it takes the liquid portion of your blood, called plasma, to clot

Other tests may be needed to detect blood clots, including:

  • Angiogram
  • CT scan
  • Genetic testing
  • Ultrasound

Blood clotting disorders can often be treated effectively with medication and other care options. If blood clots form, care is needed immediately to prevent further health complications like stroke, heart attack or kidney damage.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Comprehensive, Compassionate Care

Penn State Health provides specialized testing, treatment and management for numerous blood clotting disorders.

Our unique services include:

  • Access to skilled ultrasonographers and radiologists
  • Anticoagulation Management Clinic
  • Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center of Central Pennsylvania
  • Infusion room treatments
  • Laboratory testing services
  • Specialized Thrombosis Clinic

Our medical team is consistently recognized nationally through Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors awards. Our specialists also participate in worldwide conferences and speaking engagements in countries including India, Korea, Germany, Japan and others.

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