What Is Platelet Aggregation?

A natural extract from French Maritime Pine Bark (Pycnogenol®) has been evaluated in a number of in vitro and clinical settings, particularly with regard to platelet aggregation.

Platelets are important in the circulation. They are part of the thrombotic process and provide a mechanism whereby holes within the circulation can be plugged.

Activation of the platelets, leading to aggregation, is responsible for these plugs.

It follows that any excess aggregation can result in blockage, particularly in the microcirculation.

When platelets begin to aggregate as part of the thrombotic process, soft clot forms before becoming organised.

The body has a mechanism whereby thrombotic changes are offset by lytic changes. The development of a powerful thrombolytic system enables the blood to remain fluid and prevent extensive venous thrombosis. The body has natural anticoagulant properties it the form of Heparin.

Agents Used to Prevent Coagulation, Benefits of Pycnogenol®

Heparin is effective in preventing coagulation but does not in itself include a lytic function whereby it is capable of dissolving clots. We now have a number of drugs which can modify the development of thrombosis. These include low molecular weight Heparins and Anti Xa inhibitors.  The role of platelets as part of the thrombotic process is widely recognised.

For many years Aspirin (salicylic acid) has been used as an anti-platelet agent but has been associated with a number of unpleasant side effects, including significant gastric irritation and on occasions very profuse gastric bleeding.

The development of other anti-platelet agents, including Clopidogrel and more recently supplements containing Pycnogenol®, have demonstrated an effect on platelet aggregation.

Pycnogenol®, in some instances, has been shown to be even more effective than Aspirin and has a much lower incidence of side effects. Studies in using Pycnogenol® in people travelling long distances with relative immobility and in smokers have demonstrated its efficacy.

Zinopin®, a nutraceutical containing Pycnogenol®, has also been assessed with regard to the circulation. Studies using Zinopin® in long haul travellers where it has been demonstrated to reduce platelet aggregation are beneficial in reducing thromboses.

In addition, Zinopin® has been demonstrated to show a reduction in swelling during periods of prolonged immobility, which can occur during flying or simply during prolonged periods of immobility such as sitting at a desk.

Dr. John Scurr

Dr. John Scurr is a world-leading Consultant Surgeon for Vascular and General Surgery with a specific interest in venous disorders, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Dr. Scurr was a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at University College and Middlesex Hospital School of Medicine, a Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the University of London and head of the Department of Vascular Research.
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