Improved understanding of blood and immune system disorders has led to advances in certain drug treatments. For example, there are now drugs that reduce the risk of heart attacks caused by blood clots. Recently developed drugs that act on the immune system also allow some forms of cancer to be controlled.
There are a number of potentially serious disorders that alter the clotting mechanism of the blood, resulting in either abnormal bleeding or the formation of unwanted clots. The first articles in this section describe the drugs that help to keep the clotting factors of the blood at normal levels.
The body’s immune system combats disease by activating white blood cells and proteins in the blood against infections and cancers. Sometimes, this system malfunctions and needs to be treated with drugs. Types of drug used to treat immune system malfunction include antiallergy drugs, which counter overreaction of the immune system; immunosuppressants, which prevent the immune system attacking the body’s own tissues; and interferon drugs, which boost immunity. Drugs for the immune deficiency disease AIDS are discussed elsewhere (see Drugs for HIV infection and AIDS). The final article in this section describes anticancer drugs, which can destroy cancerous cells or prevent them from spreading elsewhere in the body. The use of anticancer drugs is known as chemotherapy.
For more information on the structure and function of blood, see Blood and the Lymphatic and Immune Systems.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.