What affects blood circulation and platelets?
Even though it contains trillions of cells, in its liquid form our blood can circulate quickly around the whole body – transporting vital nutrition and oxygen to our organs. It also regulates body temperature and strengthens the immune system. So, healthy blood circulation helps to maintain our health and wellbeing. Many of us don’t know that how smoothly the blood flows is variable, as the consistency of our blood can change throughout the day.
In our blood are platelets, which are vital in clotting when we suffer a cut or injury. But, inside the body these platelets can also morph from a smooth to a ‘sticky’ state. This leads to a ‘thickening’ of the blood as growing numbers of sticky platelets stick to each other and to the blood vessels, adding stress to the circulatory system.
This can happen many times a day, in anyone, and can lead to a blood clot forming inside the body.
What makes platelets hyperactive or sticky?
Surprisingly, our blood flow can change hourly based on our lifestyle, meaning we all need to be more aware of what affects it.
The goal is to keep the platelets in the blood smooth, more of the time, to maintain healthy blood flow and avoid dangerous clots, which can lead to health complications. Here are the most important factors to consider:
Commuting, office based work, long distance travel or simply a lack of exercise lead to a drop in our bodies’ production of protective Nitric Oxide, making the blood platelets more likely to be sticky and prone to clotting.
Stresses of life
Those who find they consistently have high and sustained levels of stress will have a high level of cortisol and epinephrine in their blood stream – both of these are associated with spiky platelets and so will put the cardiovascular system under significant stress.
If you find your diet is high in fat, sugar or salt, this will lead to more active or sticky platelets, and this is worsened if you are overweight. Alcohol and smoking also lead to more spiky platelets, with binge drinking causing particular danger.
With the fall in oestrogen during the menopause, women also face a drop in the body’s production of both Nitric Oxide and prostacyclin. These are both important in calming the blood platelets and keeping blood vessels relaxed, to control blood pressure. Women approaching the menopause face a sudden jump in the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
The various changes to the body during pregnancy, such as increased blood volume and hormonal changes, place women at increased risk of blood clots, or thrombosis.
Despite all the benefits of exercise, athletes and those who use High Intensity Training as part of their workout, do make their blood platelets spiky and activate the body’s inflammatory system, increasing the risk of thrombosis.