Hemostasis or haemostasis is a process to prevent and stop bleeding, meaning to keep blood within a damaged blood vessel (the opposite of hemostasis is hemorrhage). It is the first stage of wound healing. This involves coagulation, blood changing from a liquid to a gel. Intact blood vessels are central to moderating blood's tendency to form clots. The endothelial cells of intact vessels prevent blood clotting with a heparin-like molecule and thrombomodulin and prevent platelet aggregation with nitric oxide and prostacyclin. When endothelial injury occurs, the endothelial cells stop secretion of coagulation and aggregation inhibitors and instead secrete von Willebrand factor, which initiate the maintenance of hemostasis after injury. Hemostasis has three major steps: 1) vasoconstriction, 2) temporary blockage of a break by a platelet plug, and 3) blood coagulation, or formation of a fibrin clot. These processes seal the hole until tissues are repaired.
Hemostasis can be achieved in various other ways if the body cannot do it naturally (or needs help) during surgery or medical treatment. When the body is under shock and stress, hemostasis is harder to achieve. Though natural hemostasis is most desired, having other means of achieving this is vital for survival in many emergency settings. Without the ability to stimulate hemostasis the risk of hemorrhaging is great. During surgical procedures the types of hemostasis listed below can be used to control bleeding while avoiding and reducing the risk of tissue destruction. Hemostasis can be achieved by chemical agent as well as mechanical or physical agents. Which hemostasis type used is determined based on the situation. Developmental Haemostasis refers to the differences in the haemostatic system between children and adults.