Recognize and treat symptoms of circulatory disorders
In broad terms, circulatory disorders have three potential causes: problems with the heart, problems in the blood vessels or problems with the blood itself. Many disorders in the circulatory system are caused by hypertension, particularly pulmonary hypertension, but there are many other conditions that can lead to symptoms of circulatory disorders.
Types of Circulatory and Blood Disorders
There are, literally, hundreds of specific conditions that are classified as circulatory or blood disorders. Some of these conditions are extremely rare, while others can be aggravated by underlying diseases. For example, it is fairly common to see cases of diabetes with peripheral circulatory disorders. Some of the more common disorders in the circulatory system include:
- Hemophilia. A genetic disorder that overwhelmingly affects males, hemophilia affects the body's ability to coagulate. There are varying degrees of severity, and hemophiliacs must be very careful not to suffer injuries that can lead to internal bleeding.
- Hemolytic anemia. Characterized by abnormalities in the breakdown of red blood cells, symptoms of hemolytic anemia can include jaundice and fatigue. Later, it can lead to heart disease and heart failure.
- Pulmonary hypertension. This condition is defined as elevated blood pressure in the pulmonary artery or vein, or in the surrounding capillaries. Because this disorder develops gradually, the onset of symptoms may be delayed. However, typical signs of pulmonary hypertension include shortness of breath, swelling of the feet and ankles, and a nonproductive but persistent cough.
- Neutropenia. This disorder can range from moderate to severe, and is defined by a deficiency of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that destroy invasive bacteria. Thus, people with neutropenia are far more susceptible to infection or sepsis.
- Sickle cell anemia. A disorder affecting the shape and efficacy of red blood cells, sickle cell anemia can lead to a number of acute or chronic complications, some of which can be life-threatening. Pain management and dietary interventions are used on an ongoing basis, but emergency interventions may be needed to treat sudden, severe episodes.
Tests for Circulatory Disorders
The type of blood tests you'll undergo depend on the condition your doctor suspects you may have. Common tests for circulatory disorders include a complete blood count test and coagulation tests that quantify the efficiency with which your body clots blood.
The Coombs test is also commonly administered, especially in blood banks. This test looks for important antibodies that bind to red blood cells and can be used to diagnose hemolytic anemia, among other conditions.