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Blood and Bleeding Disorders FAQs

Reviewed by Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

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Q:Sickle cell disease is named after a farming tool. True or False?

A:True. Healthy red blood cells are round. In a person with sickle cell disease (SCD), the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a "sickle." Sickle cells die early, causing a constant shortage of red blood cells.

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Q:There is no cure for any patient with sickle cell disease. True or False?

A:False. Bone marrow/stem cell transplant can cure sickle cell disease in some patients.

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Q:Sickle cell disease (SCD) affects different people in different ways, but SCD symptoms almost always include pain. True or False?

A:True. A pain episode or crisis is the most common symptom of sickle cell disease (sickle cell anemia), and it's the top reason that people with the disease go to the emergency room or hospital. When sickle cells travel through small blood vessels, they can get stuck and clog the blood flow. This causes pain that can start suddenly, be mild to severe, and last for any length of time.

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Q:Hemophilia is group of bleeding disorders. True or False?

A:True. Hemophilia is not one disease but rather one of a group of inherited bleeding disorders that cause abnormal or exaggerated bleeding and poor blood clotting. For example, there is Hemophilia A (lack of clotting factor VIII), Hemophilia B (lack of clotting factor IX) and Von Willebrand disease (lack of Von Willebrand clotting factor).

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Q:Most people with hemophilia are males. True or False?

A:True. Most people with hemophilia are males. Hemophilia is a common inherited bleeding disorder. Hemophilia occurs in one of every 5,000 male births. Currently, about 20,000 males in the U.S. have the disorder. Females who inherit one affected X chromosome become a "carrier" of hemophilia.

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Q:Menorrhagia occurs only in women. True or False?

A:True. Menorrhagia refers to heavy menstrual bleeding. Menorrhagia can be incapacitating for some women and may suggest a bleeding disorder.

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Q:What is the name of a blood clot that blocks a major artery feeding the lungs?

A:Pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism clogs the artery that provides blood supply to part of the lung. The embolism not only prevents the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, but it also decreases blood supply to the lung tissue itself, potentially causing lung tissue to die.

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Q:Pulmonary embolism is similar to deep vein thrombosis. True or False?

A:True. Pulmonary embolism (PE) is most closely related to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT/PE is an underdiagnosed, serious, preventable medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. These clots usually develop in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis, but they can also occur in the arm. In more than one-third of people affected by DVT, clots can travel to the lungs and cause PE, a potentially fatal condition.

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Q:A red blood cell typically lives for about four weeks. True or False?

A:False. The normal life span of a red blood cell is typically around 100-120 days (about four months).

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Q:What is anemia?

A:Anemia is a medical condition in which the red blood cell count or hemoglobin is less than normal.

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Q:What is septic shock?

A:A blood infection is present. The terms septic shock and sepsis are often used interchangeably with the term septicemia, a serious, life-threatening blood infection that worsens very quickly and is often fatal.

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Q:Hemochromatosis means there is too much of what substance in the blood?

A:Iron. Hemochromatosis (HE-mo-kro-ma-TO-sis) is a disease in which too much iron builds up in the body (iron overload). Iron is a mineral found in many foods. Too much iron is toxic to the body. It can poison organs and cause organ failure. In hemochromatosis, iron can build up in most of the body's organs but especially in the liver, heart, and pancreas.

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