Here’s what you need to know about DVT and pregnancy. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your body. These deep veins are exactly what they sound like: situated deep inside your body, far away from your skin’s surface. Because the veins aren’t visible, a clot could form unnoticed. And if it doesn’t get treated, it could break free from its initial position, traveling through the circulatory system and ending up in other parts of your body. If that happens, you could be facing a life-threatening medical emergency, especially if the clot travels to your lungs (also known as a pulmonary embolism.)
Many factors can elevate your risk of DVT, including long plane flights, surgery and your age.
Today, we also know that COVID-19 increases your risk for blood clots and DVT, even if your initial symptoms were relatively mild.
Still, in this post, we’re going to look at the connection between pregnancy and your risk for DVT. In that way, you can protect your vein health during this very different time.
Clotting During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, the blood-clotting factors in your body fluctuate, making clots more likely. Now, new studies reveal that the overall risk of a clot during pregnancy is fairly low. (It is lowest during the first trimester, and gradually increases, reaching the highest level of risk during your post-partum period.)
In spite of that relatively low risk, most pregnant women have a DVT rate that is five-times higher than it is when they are not expecting. Furthermore, women who develop a surface-level clot have a very high risk of developing a DVT. Other pregnancy-related conditions can also increase your risk. In fact, this study shows that women with preeclampsia have an increased risk for DVT both during pregnancy and after delivering their babies.
Now, this elevated risk is a very big deal: DVT is one of the leading killers for pregnant women; your DVT risk is highest in your third trimester and for the first week after delivering your baby.
So, now that you understand your DVT risk during pregnancy, let’s examine the ways in which we can protect your health.
Managing Your DVT Risk During Pregnancy
If you already had a history of blood clots before getting pregnant, your doctor may suggest taking blood thinners while you are expecting. But if you are an otherwise-healthy woman, making smart lifestyle choices during pregnancy can help manage your risk for DVT. Following a healthy diet, and preventing gestational diabetes, can help lower your DVT risk, since being overweight can also increase your likelihood for DVT. Sticking to a regular, doctor-approved exercise program can also help lower your risk for DVT.
Of course, there are never guarantees when it comes to clot prevention. So, if you are pregnant and concerned about clotting, we invite you to discuss your DVT risk with one of our Houston-area vein specialists! Concerned about coming to the office for an in-person visit? Don’t worry: we offer Telemedicine appointments for your comfort and safety. But, whether virtually or in our office, we urge you not to wait to address blood clot concerns. If you think you have a DVT, call our office and request an immediate appointmentrequest an immediate appointmentrequest an immediate appointment. We’ll see you right away, and decide if you need to head directly to the emergency room!
Sources: Journal Radiology,