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Demystifying DVT and PE
Deep Vein Thrombosis, DVT, and Pulmonary Embolism, PE, are two conditions that go unnoticed during pregnancy until it is almost too late. They are a result of blood clots.
So, Just found out im pregnant! Congratulations, future mommy. There are maybe a few things in life more important than bringing forth life; such as… eem, well, nothing is. You are about to embark on a journey like none other, and you will need a bunch of information along the way. So, sit pretty and read on because this site is solely dedicated to you and your baby’s well-being.
What Is a Blood Clot?
We call it a blood clot when blood thickens to form a lump to prevent further bleeding. Clotting is body’s mechanism to keep you from losing too much blood during injury. In normal circumstances, blood clots are okay, but when they block vital ongoing in the body, they could turn fatal.
What Causes Blood Clots During Pregnancy?
First, blood clots in pregnancy are extremely rare. Only one or two out of 2000 expectant mothers will get clots. Clotting mostly happens in two parts of the body; in the leg (about 90 percent of the times), or in the lungs (30% of the times).
When you lounge for days, or even for hours in the car or plane, blood will circulate sluggishly through the veins, to eventually form a lump in the extremities (in this case, legs). This lump may break off on its own or could develop into a hard vein and stubbornly stay there. For this reason, this clot is also called a Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
If a piece of the clot breaks off and heads to the lungs, it could cause a blockage in the artery, hence preventing blood from reaching as far as it should. We call this clot the pulmonary embolism (PE). The clot to the lungs is especially dangerous because it is too much pressure on the heart. It’s forced to work harder to pump blood, which causes it to exhaust and stop altogether.
Best-known causes of this condition are:
- It makes the blood circulate sluggishly, which could result in the said lumps.
- Hormones: Birth control pills have elevated levels of the hormone estrogen, and so they could increase the risk of getting blood clots. This is why some young women will get it in the first few weeks after delivery.
- People with the blood disorder, Factor V Leiden are primarily genetically inclined to suffer blood clots. The good thing about the condition is that it only affects a small percentage of the population and only a small proportion (10 percent) of them will suffer abnormal clots.
- Smoking, whether first or exposure to too much secondary smoking.
- Multiple or late births (over 35 years).
Symptoms of Blood Clots
- Swells or pain in one leg (especially the left leg)
- Pain when you walk
- Larger than normal veins.
Clots can lead to miscarriages if they are not caught early enough.
Treating A Blood Clot
Typically, the doctor will use a coagulant to treat blood clots. The good thing about clots is that when they are caught early, they can be treated successfully. In some cases, some patients have been put on blood thinners for life because the clots were found too late.
Prevention of DVT/EP
Good news to all fellow women- You do not have to ditch birth control (unless he takes one for the team). Here’s how to prevent the condition:
- Stay active: It not only turns you into a yummy mummy, but it also prevents blood from flowing sluggishly. The faster your blood flows, the less likely it is to clot. Think of it as a river. Furiously flowing rivers do not form tributaries or small dams. Go for regular walks during and after pregnancy.
- Get checked regularly: You may be genetically inclined to it but without the slightest idea. If anyone in your family has been diagnosed with a blood clot, it would be smart to book your appointment, especially this pregnancy period.
- Keep checking your left leg during your pregnancy. Research done at the University of Toronto showed that 90 percent of the 124 pregnant women suffered blood clots on the left leg. They credited this to the presence of an artery in this part of the body, which obstructs the flow of blood.
- Quit smoking. It is the rights choice for both you and your unborn baby.
- Treat varicose veins because doctors say blood circulates slower in enlarged blood vessels.
Listen to your body. Your sixth sense will nag you when something is amiss. During pregnancy, your levels of awareness are especially high, so it would be wise to pay close attention. Read more about Bleeding While Pregnant.
If you have still have any question about blood clots during pregnancy, feel free to post and ask your questions, I’m always here to help you out.