Active 74-year-old seeks cause of easy bruising

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November 20, 2018 - 11:16 AM

Dear Dr. Roach: I’m a 74-year-old male. I take Zocor, flecainide and a baby aspirin each day. For the past year, whenever I bump either arm, I get a large blood bruise that lasts for about a week or two. I don’t even remember some of the bumps. Is there something lacking, such as vitamins, that I could take? I’m quite active. I golf twice a week, walk 3 miles four times a week, and I ride a bike with a bike club 35 miles once per week. — R.A.

Answer: A bruise is a collection of blood, in or below the skin. The medical term is “hematoma,” which means exactly that: “blood collection.” Older people are more likely to develop hematomas, and it happens with less trauma than in younger people. But some people are just more prone to develop them. Aspirin, because it works by disabling the blood clotting cells (platelets), increases the risk of developing a bruise, or having a larger bruise.

There are medical conditions that can predispose a person to getting many bruises. Von Willebrand’s disease can go many years without ever being diagnosed, and should be considered in people with more-serious bleeding or a family history. Less commonly, there may be abnormalities in the blood-clotting pathway.

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