The Different Types of White Blood Cells

White blood cells (WBCs) circulate in the blood to help protect the body against infections, but also have a role in inflammation and allergic responses. There are various types of white blood cells and each of them can give us a lot of information around whether the infection or inflammatory response is bacterial, viral, auto-immune, allergic, acute or chronic. Continue reading

Understanding How Anticoagulants Work

warfarin anticoagulation stop the clot

As discussed in the article “The Clotting Cascade Made Easy”, a blood clot is formed when activated platelets are trapped in stabilised cross linked fibrin. The process of fibrin formation is controlled by procoagulation factors (factors that promote blood clotting) and anticoagulation factors (factors that inhibit blood clotting). If the ability of the body to maintain this equilibrium is disrupted, we could either bleed to death or become one big blood clot! Continue reading

Massive Blood Transfusions and Making the Blood Clot!

Blood Transfusion Negative

Ouch! I’ve just given myself a paper cut!

*Utters a string of expletives that would make a pirate blush*

As I apply pressure to my haemorrhaging war wound, I notice that the bleeding slows down to a stop. That is because my body is able to clot at the site of this small injury according to the physiology of the clotting cascade. However, it would be a different situation if I was in a horror movie and had my arm chewed off by zombies! I would now be experiencing a massive loss of blood that would result in the need for a massive blood transfusion. The internal processes of the body to clot may not be sufficient in the setting of a massive haemorrhage, and so it will need the help of some friends in the form of other blood products to help stop the bleeding.

*Cue the Rocky theme song as I battle through a horde of zombies with one arm to find an abandoned hospital, with a fully functional blood fridge, to initiate a massive blood transfusion protocol* Continue reading

The Clotting Cascade Made Easy!

At some point or another, there is a strong probability that we have all seen that dreaded flow chart. You know, the one with all the roman numerals that looks like it was created with the sole intent of confusing us. The one that we try to memorise but secretly hope that no one ever asks us about it. Do you know the one I’m talking about? That’s right; the dreaded coagulation or clotting cascade! And this article is going to simplify it to a point that you not only get it, but remember it as well! Continue reading

Diagnose ANY Arterial Blood Gas in 5 Easy Steps: Get it Right, Every Single Time!

It is important to understand that the pH in our bodies likes to stay within the very narrow range of 7.35 – 7.45. In the physiologically functioning body, this is achieved by the respiratory system maintaining a carbon dioxide (CO2) level between 35 – 45 mmHg and the metabolic system maintaining a bicarbonate level between 22 – 26 mEq/L.

When a pathophysiological process causes the CO2 or bicarbonate levels in our body to move outside of their normal ranges, the pH is affected and also moves outside of it’s normal range. Continue reading