Blood Clots and Pregnancy – Part 2
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Blood Clots and Pregnancy – Part 2


THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES, WOMEN FACE A SERIES
OF BLOOD CLOTTING CHALLENGES UNIQUE TO THEIR GENDER. IMPORTANT CHOICES WOMEN MAKE ABOUT FAMILY
PLANNING OR BIRTH CONTROL, PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH, AND THE TREATMENT OF MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS LATER
IN LIFE, ALL CAN IMPACT THEIR POTENTIAL RISK FOR LIFE-THREATENING BLOOD CLOTS. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? EACH YEAR IN THE UNITED
STATES, ABOUT 900,000 PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED BY BLOOD CLOTS. ABOUT 100,000 OF THESE PEOPLE
WILL DIE. ANNUALLY, MORE PEOPLE LOSE THEIR LIVES DUE
TO BLOOD CLOTS THAN DUE TO BREAST CANCER, AIDS, AND AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS…COMBINED. DANGEROUS BLOOD CLOTS OFTEN FORM IN THE DEEP
VEINS OF A PERSON’S ARM OR LEG. THIS TYPE OF BLOOD CLOT IS CALLED A DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS
OR D-V-T. IF A D-V-T IS LEFT UNTREATED, IT CAN BREAK OFF OR TRAVEL TO THE LUNGS. A BLOOD CLOT THAT TRAVELS TO THE LUNG IS CALLED
A PULMONARY EMBOLISM OR P-E AND CAN BE LIFE-THREATENING. WOMEN ARE MORE AT RISK FOR BLOOD CLOTS DURING
CHILD BEARING AGE, BUT THEY ALSO FACE UNIQUE RISKS LATER IN LIFE, WHEN THE ONSET OF MENOPAUSE
SYMPTOMS OCCUR. PREGNANCY IS A MAJOR RISK FACTOR FOR THE DEVELOPMENT
OF DANGEROUS BLOOD CLOTS, AND CAN INCREASE A WOMAN’S BLOOD CLOT RISK FOUR-FOLD. THIS RISK ONLY INCREASES — UP TO 20-FOLD
— IN THE WEEKS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING CHILD BIRTH. THE GREATEST RISK OCCURS IN THE FIRST WEEK
AFTER THE BABY IS BORN, WHEN IT IS AS HIGH AS 100-FOLD. THIS TENDENCY FOR A WOMAN’S BODY TO FORM CLOTS
DURING PREGNANCY IS THE RESULT OF A NATURAL RESPONSE TO PROTECT WOMEN AGAINST THE BLEEDING
CHALLENGES OF MISCARRIAGE AND CHILDBIRTH. IN GENERAL, THERE ARE SEVERAL GROUPS OF WOMEN
WHO NEED TO BE ON ANTICOAGULANTS OR BLOOD THINNING MEDICATION DURING PREGNANCY, INCLUDING: — WOMEN WHO HAVE HAD A BLOOD CLOT AND ARE
ALREADY TAKING BLOOD THINNING MEDICATION — WOMEN WHO HAVE HAD A BLOOD CLOT IN THE
PAST, BUT ARE NOT CURRENTLY TAKING BLOOD THINNING MEDICATION — WOMEN WHO DEVELOP A BLOOD CLOT DURING PREGNANCY. — AND, AFTER DELIVERY, WOMEN WHO HAVE NOT
HAD A CLOT, BUT WHO HAVE OTHER MAJOR RISK FACTORS, SUCH AS OBESITY THERE ARE BLOOD THINNING MEDICATIONS, INCLUDING
STANDARD OR UNFRACTIONATED HEPARIN AND LOW MOLECULAR WEIGHT HEPARAIN, THAT ARE SAFE IN
PREGNANCY, BECAUSE THEY DO NOT CROSS THE PLACENTA OR ENTER THE BLOOD STREAM OF THE UNBORN BABY.
LOW MOLECULAR WEIGHT HEPARIN IS PREFERRED OVER HEPARIN BECAUSE IT PRESENTS FEWER SIDE
EFFECTS. USE OF BLOOD THINNING PILLS LIKE WARFARIN
OR THE NEWER ORAL ANTICOAGULANT THERAPIES ARE COMMONLY PRESCRIBED FOR MANY PEOPLE, BUT
THEY ARE NOT CONSIDERED SAFE FOR UNBORN BABIES. AFTER DELIVERY, WOMEN WHO HAVE HAD A BLOOD
CLOT IN THE PAST, WOMEN WHO HAVE A CLOTTING DISORDER, OR WOMEN WHO MIGHT HAVE OTHER MAJOR
RISK FACTORS, NEED ANTICOAGULATION OR BLOOD THINNER THERAPY. ALSO, WOMEN CAN BREASTFEED
WHILE ON LOW MOLECULAR WEIGHT HEPARIN INJECTIONS OR WARFARIN, BUT THE SAFETY OF NEWER ORAL
ANTICOAGULANTS WHILE BREASTFEEDING HAS NOT YET BEEN DETERMINED. WOMEN SHOULD TALK TO THEIR DOCTOR OR HEALTHCARE
PROVIDER ABOUT THEIR BLOOD CLOT RISK FACTORS, PARTICULARLY IF THEY HAVE A FAMILY HISTORY
OF BLOOD CLOTS. IF YOU PLAN TO GET PREGNANT, OR LEARN THAT
YOU ARE PREGNANT, ALWAYS LET YOUR DOCTOR KNOW RIGHT AWAY, AND DISCUSS YOUR BLOOD CLOTTING
RISKS. IT’S CRUCIAL FOR WOMEN TO UNDERSTAND THEIR
BLOOD CLOT RISKS, AND ALSO TO RECOGNIZE AND SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IF THEY EXPERIENCE
THE SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS OF A BLOOD CLOT. THE SYMPTOMS OF A BLOOD CLOT IN YOUR LEG OR
ARM MIGHT INCLUDE: SWELLING, PAIN, OR TENDERNESS NOT CAUSED BY
INJURY SKIN THAT IS WARM TO THE TOUCH REDNESS OR DISCOLORATION THE SYMPTOMS OF A BLOOD CLOT IN YOUR LUNG
MIGHT INCLUDE: DIFFICULTY BREATHING CHEST PAIN THAT WORSENS WITH A DEEP BREATH COUGHING UP BLOOD WITH THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
BLOOD CLOTS, AND AN UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE SPECTRUM OF OPTIONS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO
THEM, WOMEN CAN REDUCE THEIR CLOTTING RISK AT THESE DIFFERENT PIVOTAL LIFE STAGES – THEY
CAN “STOP THE CLOT” — AND ENJOY FULLY THE HAPPINESS THAT THESE LIFE STAGES OFFER.

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