Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can strike women on birth control and during pregnancy

You can prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

Get moving, stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight and diet – these are simple solutions to solve many of today’s health problems.  And by focusing on prevention, you can spend less time at the doctor’s office and more time enjoying life.  March is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month – yes this is an actual event, and one that you should never take lightly – especially if you are a woman.

There are superficial (closer to the surface) and deep veins throughout the body.  Blood clots are found in the superficial veins – they are relatively common and are treated with heat, elevation, and rest.  Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) affects the larger, deeper veins further below the skin’s surface and is a much more serious condition that can affect veins deep within the muscles of the leg.  These veins transport 90 percent of the blood that circulates between the heart and the legs, making the risk from deep vein thrombosis all that much higher.

Deep vein thrombosis can partially or completely block blood flow and cause chronic pain, swelling, and make it difficult to move around.  The greatest danger of DVT is when a blood clot breaks free from wherever it begins and travels to the heart, lungs, or other major organs.  Once there, the blood clot will block the blood flow to the organ. If a clot lands in the lung, you will develop what is known as a pulmonary embolism. Into the heart and you could be looking at a serious heart attack….into the brain and they can cause strokes.

Acute DVT is common in both men and women, but there are certain circumstances unique to women that can increase their risk.  Pregnancy and childbirth, surgery – especially of the reproductive organs or urinary tract, hip replacements, cancer, infection after childbirth, accidents and other trauma make women more prone to develop DVT.  Birth control, smoking and sitting for long periods of time can also increase your chances.  Other risk factors for women include obesity, being older than 35 and having a family history of DVT.

Thanks to shifting hormones and physical changes that happen when a woman is expecting a baby, the rate of deep vein thrombosis, or clots is much higher when you are pregnant.  Women over the age of 35 who take birth control, and especially those who throw smoking into the mix also raise their risk for a clot. According to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, clots can happen no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, and some studies have shown it to happen more in the left leg—though that doesn’t mean you can’t have one in your right.

Symptoms of a Deep Vein Thrombosis in the leg can include:

  • Warmth
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain

A clot can seriously change the course of a pregnancy by requiring adjustments in your activity level, extra monitoring by your doctor and maybe new medications to treat your clot.  Dr. Hessel is an experienced OB/GYN who understands these risk and is trained to detect, diagnose and treat them to help reduce your risk for a complication. Come see her today and get the great care you have been looking for.