Capitol Vein Blog

Thursday, August 9, 2012

1 in 1,000 Risk of Blood Clots During Pregnancy

Recent news alerts have drawn attention to "1 in 1,000" blood clot risk during or immediately after pregnancy.  This heightened awareness is the result of a resent presentation at the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), during which it was noted that pregnant women have a four to five times greater risk of potentially life-threatening clots than non-pregnant women.

One likely reason for this elevated risk is the natural increase in clotting factors during pregnancy. Because pregnancy carries an increased risk of developing blood clots, pregnant women should be particularly aware of leg pain and swelling.

Of course, water retention during pregnancy can also lead to swelling, and the elevated uterine pressures can lead to achy legs - so it's important not to self-diagnose.  Determining the presence of a clot is best conducted via ultrasound of the leg veins, also known as duplex scanning.  This painless test examines flow in leg veins and indicates the presence of abnormalities.

In addition to blood clots, varicose veins are also associated with pregnancy, as elevated estrogen and progesterone levels cause veins to expand, causing symptoms like aching and throbbing. During pregnancy, use of compression hose provides the best management of varicose vein symptoms, but post-partum, full medical evaluation and treatment is the best way to obtain full resolution.

The commonly repeated advice that varicose vein treatment should be deferred until childbearing is completed is no longer considered valid. The best course of action is to seek evaluation and treatment (Venefit Procedure) of varicose veins between pregnancies, so future pregnancies are less likely to include the discomfort of varicose veins.

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