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Coagulation

Instructions

Individuals are required to fast for 10 to 12 hours prior to taking a blood clotting test.  No foods or liquids are allowed except for water during the fast. Many different medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies can affect results of the test.  No medications should be taken during the fast unless specifically approved by a doctor. 

Why It Is Used

A blood clotting test, also known as a coagulation blood test, is used to determine how well the blood is able to form blood clots to stop bleeding after the skin has been cut or broken.  The test may be ordered for any number of conditions where a doctor has concerns about the patient’s ability to form blood clots.  The test is often ordered before a patient has a surgery, and may also be used to discover the potential cause of multiple miscarriages.   

How It Works

During a coagulation blood test, a blood sample is taken and sent to the lab to discover any abnormalities in the level of platelets in the blood or the level of blood clotting agents in the body.  This test also includes a “bleeding test”.  For the bleeding test, the lab technician will clean an area of the skin and then make one or more small incisions to that area.  The technician then waits to see how long it takes the body to stop the bleeding on its own.  The technician blots the blood away from the skin every 30 seconds until the bleeding stops.  Blood clotting involves both cellular platelets and a protein called fibrin.  If either of these components is not working properly, it can cause blood to continue to bleed out of the body for much longer than it should.  This is a dangerous condition that can lead to substantial blood loss.

Results

Low levels of platelets in the blood or low levels of fibrin in the blood can inhibit the body’s ability to form blood clots.  This deficiency may be due to a genetic predisposition or may be seen due to disease or environmental factors.  If there are low levels of both platelets and fibrin, it is usually an acquired condition or environmental condition - such as liver disease, vitamin K deficiency, or cancer. 

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