A Primer on the Makeup of Blood
The blood pumping through your veins and within your vital organs is a small miracle we often take for granted. Knowing more about it is key to understanding how an aspirin regimen for stroke survivors helps to prevent another clot-related (ischemic) stroke. In each drop of blood, you’ll find:
- Red blood cells: they’re like oxygen delivery trucks. They carry the oxygen we need to live, wherever it’s needed.
- White blood cells: these tiny soldiers help fight infections
- Platelets: the sticky cells that come together and create a clot when you get a cut
- Plasma: the fluid part of blood that makes it all happen, delivering nutrients, hormones and proteins all over the body
Blockages Cause Ischemic Strokes
Platelets form clots, but to understand why that is, you need to know about substances called prostaglandins. These substances are what makes platelets sticky, and when you get a cut, your platelets produce them so they can form a clot to stop the bleeding.
And while a clot on the outside is good – otherwise you’d continue to bleed – a clot within your blood vessels can be a bad thing. The clotting action within your blood vessels may happen because of another sticky substance: plaque.
Made up of calcium, cholesterol, and fat – among other things – the stickiness of plaque combined with the stickiness of your platelets can lead to a blockage. And blockages can keep blood from flowing.
Blood Flow: Aspirin Makes it Possible
If your doctor prescribed an aspirin regimen, it’s because aspirin makes your clotting cells (platelets) less sticky. And if they’re less sticky, they’re less likely to clot, helping prevent another heart attack or clot-related (ischemic) stroke.