A Serious Pregnancy Risk You Probably Haven’t Heard About

Creative Commons License photo credit: cimmyredmond

When you think about problems in pregnancy, what naturally comes to mind? You probably think about things like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or problems with your baby. Yet, there are all sorts of health problems pregnant women can face, some of which we just don’t hear about.

For example, about 1 in every 1,000 pregnant women are likely to experience blood clots – dangerous blood clots that can threaten their lives – during pregnancy, during delivery, or during the postpartum period. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a condition that includes both deep vein thrombosis (which you’re probably aware of if you’ve done any research about travel health) as well as pulmonary embolism.

Higher risk of clotting during pregnancy

During and immediately following pregnancy, you’re at a higher risk of blood clots. The 1 in 1,000 campaign by Covidien seeks to educate women about the dangers of pregnancy-related VTE.

Because blood clotting is usually preventable, helping women to understand the risks and to undergo a prenatal assessment are crucial. By having health care professionals screen for blood clotting risks, educating patients on the dangers and symptoms, and helping pregnant women know what to do when they’re experiencing a blood clot are all important components in reducing this problem.

According to the research, the risk of a pregnant woman having a VTE is between four and five times that of a woman who isn’t pregnant.

There are a number of other factors that can increase the risks, including:

  • Having a c-section nearly doubles your risk of clotting.
  • A family history of clotting-related disorders means you’re at risk, as well.
  • Preeclampsia, or pregnancy hypertension, can increase the risk.
  • Obesity is always a risk for clotting.
  • Smoking changes your blood chemistry, putting you at risk.
  • Women over the age of 35 are at a higher risk, too.

Currently, there are some recommendations by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists regarding preventing VTE events during delivery, such as having pneumatic compression equipment placed in the delivery rooms for women undergoing a C-section.

Have you or anyone you know experienced a VTE? If not, have you even heard of this potentially life-threatening condition?

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