Any sight of blood causes disturbance and discomfort in most of us. Therefore, there is no second thinking about why producers use so many gory scenes in horror movies. They just love aiming at our worst fears and nightmares related to blood which increases movies’ impact on our sub conscience. However, can we learn anything about bleeding from all of the marvels of the seventh art? What is the real aftermath of a critical cut or an injury?
Three main types of bleeding are capillary, venous and arterial bleeding. Among the 3, capillary bleeding is the least life-threatening. Luckily, we are blessed by Mother Nature with a clotting system that stops capillary bleeding in a matter of few minutes.
Arterial bleeding is the most dangerous one and, in most cases, lethal. Although venous bleeding could be as deadly as the arterial bleeding, the pace of blood loss in the former is somewhat slower and therefore is easier to stop.
So, what happens in the course of the arterial bleeding that makes it so deadly?
FAST GUSHES OF BLOOD
Ordinary people’s arteries uphold between 120 and 130 mm of systolic pressure. Moreover, they are necessary vessels that distribute blood and oxygen to vital organs. As the heart sends blood to other parts of our body through arteries, the two have an inseparable connection. If an artery is damaged, blood will quickly spurt out in correspondence with the heartbeat. As the amount of blood in our body drops, the heart starts compensating for the loss by elevating its beat pace. Eventually, this will deprive our vital organs of essential oxygen and cause their malfunction.
LACK OF OXYGEN
Our lungs store oxygen when we take a breath. At the same time, the heart sends blood to the lungs where the oxygen and blood mix. Now, the blood abundant in oxygen goes back to the heart and is sent back again to other organs through arteries, capillaries, and veins. Then, the process of oxidation takes place. At this moment, fats and glucose are degraded, creating ATP energy that sets our organs into motion. Therefore, humans can’t afford losing more than 40 percent of their blood as their organism will experience a great shock due to the depletion of oxygen, nutrients, and energy that critical in its organs’ functioning.
POSSIBILITY OF AN INFECTION
Bleeding means exposure to bacteria and viruses that thrive in the outside world. The worst case scenario would be infecting ourselves with sepsis, an inflammatory condition that represses blood flow to organs, stripping them of oxygen and other nutrients. The most severe cases of sepsis lead to sudden plummeting of our blood pressure and stop our kidneys, lungs, and livers from working.
IS IT VENOUS OR ARTERIAL BLEEDING?
Being prepared to recognize the difference between the arterial and venous bleeding could be a matter of life or death.
Arterial bleeding is pretty simple to notice. In the instances of such bleeding, the hemorrhage will be plentiful, and the blood gushes will follow the rhythm of your heartbeat. Additionally, the blood will have bright red color due to the absence of the oxygen.
On the other hand, venous bleeding is slow, and the blood color is usually on the darker side.
Although venous bleeding is less life-threatening than the arterial hemorrhage, under no circumstances should either of them be neglected? If no home treatments work out, patients should promptly seek medical help.
Before we make any attempt at preventing the hemorrhage from continuing, we have to make sure that the tools we use are clean. What’s more, if we are treating someone else, we have to stay away from any direct contact with the injured’s blood as it could bear some pathogens and contractible diseases. The precautions entail wearing gloves and eye protection since they are most susceptible to be in direct touch with blood.
Several techniques could be used to stop arterial bleeding. Firstly, apply direct pressure to the wound. You can either use your fingertips or whole hand, depending on the gravity of the cut. Be sure not to remove the dressing from the cut- if it happens that the dressing gets soaked in blood just add another. Should you change the dressing too soon it is very likely you’ll impair the healing process or make the situation worse! If applying direct pressure is not successful, try elevating the injured part of the body above the heart, but make sure the patient has no broken bones beforehand. Finally, if both of the techniques don’t accomplish the desired goal, apply pressure to the pressure points. The points are at places where an artery crosses over a bone. A tourniquet can be used as a last resort and only with the help of a professional! If you use it improperly, the clotting blood will possibly go back to the heart and cause patient’s death.