Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)


What is DIC?

Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a medical condition where the normal process of blood clotting is altered due to an overreaction of the coagulation process (the process where blood clots are formed).  During the initial stages of DIC, a large number of blood clots are formed in the arteries.  In the later stages of this condition, there is severe blood loss which can be life-threatening.

To understand DIC, it is important to first understand what the process of coagulation is.  When there is a cut or injury to any part of the body, it leads to bleeding.  During the normal process of coagulation, the bleeding is stopped by forming coagulation at the bleeding site.  This is achieved with the help of three components namely fibrin (insoluble protein), thrombin (enzyme), and platelets (cell fragments).

Once the affected site heals, these blood clots are broken by our body.  During DIC, since large numbers of blood clots are formed in the arteries, the majority of the fibrin, thrombin, and platelets are already utilized by these blood clots.  Due to this, there are low levels of coagulation components leading to blood loss from various parts of the body.

What causes disseminated intravascular coagulation?

Disseminated intravascular coagulation can be caused due to various factors.  The underlying factors that cause DIC include leukemia, cancerous tumors, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), severe bacterial infection, tissue injury, aneurysms, allergic reactions, hemangioma (non-cancerous tumor), sepsis, hemorrhage, pregnancy complications, snake bites, frostbite, and burns.

How many types of disseminated intravascular coagulation are present?

DIC is mainly divided into two types, namely acute DIC and chronic DIC.

Acute disseminated intravascular coagulation

Acute DIC involves the clotting process in the blood vessels, which is also the initial stage.  At the later stage, severe blood loss is experienced which can be life-threatening.

Chronic disseminated intravascular coagulation

Chronic DIC also involves the blood clotting process in the blood vessels, which is the initial stage.  This clotting process does not lead to blood loss in the later stages.  Chronic DIC is mainly associated with cancer such as leukemia.

Symptoms associated with disseminated intravascular coagulation

The signs and symptoms of DIC mainly depend on which type of DIC is affecting the body.  In the case of acute DIC, the onset is fast since the clotting process takes only hours or days to form, which produces the symptoms of bleeding and usually is life-threatening.  On the other hand, chronic DIC occurs over a prolonged period of time.  The clotting process happens at a slow pace which may be weeks or even months.  In the majority of cases, chronic DIC does not involve any symptoms.

Blood clotting symptoms

  • Include pain in the chest and difficulty breathing when the clots are formed near the vessels surrounding the heart and lungs.
  • If the blood clots are formed in the leg, it can lead to swelling of the leg, warmth to touch, as well as pain and redness in the affected area.
  • When the blood clots affect the head, the symptoms are highly serious and include headache, loss of vision, slurring of speech, lightheadedness, as well as paralysis to one side or even both sides of the body.
  • Multi-organ failure can occur if the blood clots are formed near the organs.

Bleeding symptoms

Signs and symptoms of bleeding may occur both internally and externally.  Both these types of bleeding are considered to be highly dangerous and include:

  • If the kidneys or bladder is involved, bleeding from the urine is noted.
  • Stomach or colon related problems can lead to rectal bleeding where dark red blood is witnessed when stools are passed. Dark or tarry stools are also an indication for internal bleeding.
  • Bleeding in the head can cause vision loss or blurred vision, headaches, and even seizures.
  • Excessive bleeding can be experienced at the site of cuts and wounds.
  • The mucosa is another area where external bleeding can be seen.
  • Purpura (red and brown bruises) and petechiae (red and purple circular discoloration) can be experienced on the skin.
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding.

Risk factors associated with DIC

As discussed earlier, DIC is caused due to an underlying health condition.  People suffering from the following health conditions have a higher risk of having DIC and these include:

  • Infection of the blood such as bacterial septicemia.
  • Recent surgery or injury.
  • Underlying cancer disease such as leukemia.
  • Aortic aneurysm.
  • Fetal demise.
  • Incomplete miscarriage due to ectopic pregnancy.
  • Blood transfusion.
  • Use of anesthesia during surgery.
  • Liver disease.

How is it diagnosed?

The diagnosis of DIC would involve the following procedure:

Physical exam

A thorough physical examination will be conducted on the patient to find for any signs and symptoms of bleeding and blood clots.  A complete medical history is assessed to find the underlying cause.  As discussed earlier, mucosal bleeding can be experienced with this condition and hence the doctor will look for signs of bleeding in the mucosal area.

Lab tests

A laboratory test is ordered by the doctor to check for any abnormalities in the cells as well as the clotting process.  Some of the laboratory tests are discussed below.

  • CBC or complete blood count is a laboratory test that measures the various components of the blood. These include RBCs, WBCs, and platelets.  Abnormalities in the platelet count can indicate a medical condition related to clotting.  Similarly, a blood smear test is conducted to check the health of red blood cells.
  • Prothrombin Time and Partial Thromboplastin Time tests are conducted to check for problems related to the coagulation process.
  • Fibrinogen test is conducted to check for the level of fibrinogen protein present in the blood. A person suffering from excessive bleeding may have low levels of fibrinogen.
  • Fibrin degradation test is conducted to check for the levels of fibrin degradation products. Abnormal levels of fibrin degradation products indicate that blood clots are not broken down appropriately.

Can DIC be treated?

Treatment for DIC mainly depends on the type and severity of the condition.  Stopping excessive bleeding is the first challenge in treating this condition.  The second challenge would be eliminating the clotting problems.  The treatment process for acute and chronic DIC is discussed below.  Addressing the underlying medical condition would go hand-in-hand along with treating the present symptoms.

Treatment for acute DIC

Excessive bleeding is the main problem faced when a person is affected by acute DIC.  Treatment is generally undertaken in a hospital setting.  Medications, blood transfusions, and breathing treatments are some of the treatment modes.  Blood transfusions are considered if the patient has lost a considerable amount of blood.  A blood transfusion may involve complete replacement of blood or only a few components of blood.  In some cases, only platelets are administered to replenish low platelet count.  On the other hand, clotting factors may be included along with platelets in the transfusion process.

Treatment for chronic DIC

People affected with chronic DIC generally experience problems with blood clots.  In such a scenario, doctors prefer to treat the patient with anticoagulants.  Anticoagulants are blood thinners that help in making the blood thinner.  It should be noted that blood thinners cannot dissolve blood clots, but can prevent them from getting bigger.  It also prevents further blood clots at a different location.

It is important to monitor the patient who is prescribed with blood thinners.  Regular lab tests are ordered to check the levels in order to prevent further complications.  Since the blood thinners make the blood thin, there is a higher chance of blood loss when the patient gets injured.  It would be difficult to control the blood loss from cuts or wounds and hence adequate precaution is required.  If a person is on blood thinners and needs to undergo surgery, it is highly recommended to consult the doctor for recommendations.  The doctor would generally ask the patient to stop taking these medications for a few days before and after the surgery.  This is true even with any minor surgery such as dental extracts.

Complications from DIC

Complications related to DIC can occur from both blood clots and excessive bleeding.  Some of the major complications are discussed below.

Inadequate oxygen supply

Oxygen is supplied to all parts of the body with the help of blood.  Hemoglobin and myoglobin present in the blood help in this process.  If a person is affected with DIC, there are a large number of blood clots that are formed.  These blood clots may block the blood supply to a bone or a limb and hence there is inadequate blood supply.  This makes the affected area to become weak and lose its strength due to inadequate blood and oxygen supply.  If this condition is not addressed immediately, there is a high chance of amputation of the affected limb.

Organ failure

The human body has various internal organs and each organ has its own function.  When blood clots due to DIC block the blood supply to these organs, there is inadequate blood flow.  This leads to abnormal functioning of the organs.  For example, if the blood supply to the kidneys is affected, it can result in abnormal filtering of the urine.  In extreme cases, dialysis may be required.  Similarly, if the blood clots block the blood supply to the lungs, there is malfunctioning of the lungs.  This can cause difficulty in breathing and hence the patient may end up with a ventilator.

Stroke

Stroke is a medical condition where blood vessels connecting the brain are blocked due to various reasons.  A blood clot is the most common cause of stroke.  In this case, oxygen and blood flow is affected and hence can lead to neurological problems such as paralysis.  Paralysis may affect either one side of the body or both sides of the body.  Immediate medical attention is required in this scenario followed by regular monitoring of the patient.

Easy bruising

Easy bruising is generally associated with acute DIC where the patient is affected by both blood clots and later with excessive bleeding.  This is generally a life-threatening condition since even a small wound or cut can cause very high blood loss.  Immediate medical attention is required to stop blood loss.  Further, a blood transfusion may be required if necessary.

Bottom line

As a matter of fact, the prognosis for DIC is not that great.  It has been estimated that around 50% of the patients affected with DIC may not survive.  On the contrary, early diagnosis can definitely improve the prognosis.  Regular checkups with the doctor and consumption of anticoagulants can improve the lifestyle.  It is important to be cautious and avoid any type of injury while on blood thinners.

Facts

  • DIC accounts for 1% of hospital admissions each year.
  • Bacterial sepsis accounts for 83% of DIC cases, which is followed by trauma and cancer.

Facts

  • It should be noted that DIC can also occur as a complication from surgery.

Facts

  • DIC has a low prognosis where 50% of the patients do not survive even after treatment.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Seek immediate medical treatment in case of blood clots or excessive bleeding.
  • Follow up regularly for monitoring.
  • Avoid supplements or foods that may interfere with anticoagulation therapy.
  • Follow precautionary measures and avoid getting hurt.
Don'ts
  • Delay medical treatment for blood clots and excessive bleeding.
  • Avoid regular checkups.
  • Consume foods and supplements that may interfere with anticoagulation.
  • Follow a lifestyle with higher risks of injury.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
apple cider vinegar weight loss
Apple cider vinegar: Weight loss, shinier hair, and more! Did you know that apple cider vinegar, produced by the simple fermentation of apple juice, could hold the…
Clitoris: Why is it called the gateway to toe-curling female orgasms? The word clitoris comes from the Greek word kleitoris or “little hill.”  Many compare the female clitoris to…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with essential nutrients that…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Find the G spot: The top sex positions that guarantee an orgasm There has been a long debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists as a separate organ.  Can…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
back pain relief
Don’t choose pain: 10 truths about your back ache (and how to get relief) Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the world. Almost 80% of the entire global…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Is this is the real life? Is this just fantasy? – Decoding the myths of lucid dreaming Lucid dreaming or dreaming with a state of awareness has often intrigued the minds of experts worldwide. Do…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
Military diet
Military Diet : Why following a highly restrictive diet is a bad idea Is seiging your calorie intake the right way to attack fats? Read more about Military diet, a highly…
Tea Tree Oil : The one stop cure for skin ailments and more… The popularity of tea tree oil, an essential oil, as the ultimate skin care pick is not unheard…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How is it linked…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Experts reveal, how long does marijuana actually stay in your system… Weed or marijuana is one of the most widely abused recreational drug. But did you know how long…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes, environmental circumstances, etc.
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
V for Vagina: How well do you know this extraordinary part of the female anatomy? Vagina - a simple part of the human anatomy that has often created a feeling of either digust…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
Vitamin C: The instant health benefits of adding the citrusy goodness to your diet Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that cannot be synthesized in your body and has to be obtained…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigious superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
DASH Diet: What to eat in a “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension”? If you or your loved one is suffering from chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), dash towards a DASH…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
What is the eustachian tube and how does it help you maintain body balance? Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the three important functions…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Benefits of exercise: Top reasons why you should be sweating it out more in the gym Are you leading a sedentary life and still not motivated enough to get up from your couch and…
TRX: Why is this total resistance workout the best choice for your body? TRX or total resistance exercise is a form of exercise where suspension belts are used to produce that…