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Blood Clots and Pregnancy

The importance of avoiding blood clots during pregnancy

A venous blood clot (blood clot in a vein) occurs when blood is moving so slowly through the veins on its way back to the heart that it becomes almost stagnant. This type of clot is different from that which occurs in an artery due to plaque build-up.

When she is pregnant, a woman is more susceptible to developing venous blood clots. Blood clots can have painful and even life-threatening complications, so the simultaneous occurrence of blood clots and pregnancy is an extremely worrisome combination.

Symptoms and Risks of Blood Clots in Pregnancy

Blood clots, especially in the leg or pelvis, are of particular concern for pregnant women because the expanding uterus can interfere with the flow of blood from the veins of the lower body to the heart. Therefore, the risk of a pregnant woman's developing blood clots early in pregnancy is generally low, but increases as her body makes the major adjustments required to accommodate a growing fetus. Because a venous blood clot is most likely to occur in the lower body of a pregnant woman, common symptoms to watch out for are significant swelling, pain, heat and redness in one leg.

A deep-vein blood clot, or deep venous thrombosis (DVT), can permanently damage the blood-vessel tissue, and if it breaks off, or embolizes, it can travel back through the vein to the heart and into the lung and cause a potentially fatal condition.

Avoiding Pregnancy Blood Clots

There are many preventative steps you can take to minimize your risk of blood clots during pregnancy, and perhaps the most important of these is, literally, to take steps -- if you want your blood to move, you have to move. Even a stroll or two a day, or getting up to walk around and gently stretch when you've been sitting for a period of time, can do wonders for aiding circulation.

Knowing your family background is also important; if there is a history of venous blood clots in your family, then both you and your doctor need to be vigilant in tracking your pregnancy symptoms and identifying any potential signs of trouble.

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