Posts Tagged ‘blood clots’

World Thrombosis Day

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

pregnant woman blood pressureA blood clot (also called a thrombosis) is a mass or clump of blood that forms when blood changes from a liquid to a solid. The body normally makes blood clots to stop the bleeding after a scrape or cut. But sometimes blood clots can partly or completely block the flow of blood in a blood vessel, like a vein or artery. This can cause damage to body organs and even death. Blood clots affect 900,000 people each year and as many as 100,000 people die each year due to blood clots.

Risk factors for blood clots

Certain conditions make you more likely to have a blood clot. These include:

  • Being pregnant. Your blood clots more easily during pregnancy to help your body get ready to lessen blood loss during labor and birth. Also, blood flow in your legs gets slower late in pregnancy. This is because the blood vessels around your pelvis and other places are more compressed (narrow) and your growing uterus (womb) puts pressure on your pelvis.
  • Having certain health conditions, like a thrombophilia, high blood pressure, diabetes or being overweight or obese.  A family history of blood clotting problems also increases your chances of blood clots. If you have a family history or a personal history of a thrombophilia, make sure you tell your health care provider.
  • Taking certain medicines, like birth control pills or estrogen hormones. These medicines can increase the risk of clotting. If you’ve had problems with blood clots or thrombophilias or have a family history of these conditions, birth control pills may not be safe for you to use. Talk to your health care provider about other birth control options.
  • Smoking. Smoking damages the lining of blood vessels, which can cause blood clots to form.
  • Having surgery, like a cesarean section. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that doctors help prevent blood clots in women during a c-section. This may include using devices that put pressure on your legs to help keep your blood flowing during the c-section, like compression socks.
  • Being dehydrated. This means you don’t have enough water in your body. Dehydration causes blood vessels to narrow and your blood to thicken, which makes you more likely to have blood clots.
  • Not moving around much. This may be because you’re on bed rest during pregnancy or recovering from surgery. Being still for long periods of time can lead to poor blood flow, which makes you more likely to have blood clots. Even sitting for long periods of time, like when travelling by car or plane, can increase your chances of having a blood clot.
  • Having a baby. You’re more likely to have a blood clot in the first 6 weeks after birth than women who haven’t given birth recently.

Know the signs

Make sure you recognize the symptoms of a blood clot. These include:

  • Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm)
  • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg (or arm) warm to touch

If you have any signs or symptoms, contact your health care provider right away. Blood clots can be treated with special medications.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Blood disorders chat: Can I pass this on to my child?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

althea-grantDid you know that millions of people carry genes for various blood disorders? Many of these people will live normal, healthy lives without serious complications. However, some may experience some complications under certain conditions.  Many people are unaware of their carrier status or family health history. With all the misinformation out there about blood disorders, it’s easy to get confused.

Please join us for an online chat about blood disorders, the importance of carrier status, family health history, pregnancy, and newborn screening. Dr. Althea Grant will be answering your questions and debunking myths and misconceptions about carrier issues related to:

Bleeding and clotting disorders
•             Hemophilia
•             Blood clots
•             Von Willebrand disease

•             Sickle cell disease
•             Thalassemia

Meet us on Twitter and join the conversation “Removing the Knowledge Barriers When it Comes to Information on Carriers” on Thursday, Oct 18th at 1 PM EDT. Be sure to use #pregnancychat to follow the chat and ask questions.  

Dr. Althea Grant is the Acting Director of the Division of Blood Disorders, National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Grant has been recognized for her contributions to developing public health programs and resources for sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.

Air travel during pregnancy

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

 Next month I’m attending a conference for work on the west coast. It’s something that was planned well before I knew I was expecting. I’ll be in my 23rd week by the time I head out. I spoke to my health care provider because I was a little nervous about traveling by myself especially because the flight is so long. I’m mostly concerned about being uncomfortable, having to get up a million times to use the bathroom, weird plane food and jet lag.

If you are in good health and more than five or six weeks from your due date, traveling by air should be fine.  If you are experiencing health problems during your pregnancy, air travel can be unwise.  Be sure to speak with your health care provider if you are unsure about whether you should travel.

Pregnant women who travel may have special concerns including:

Seating – Try to get an aisle seat so you will have more legroom as well as the ability to get up and stretch periodically.  This is important, especially during long flights.  Blood can pool in your legs if you sit idle for extended periods.  This pooling can lead to blood clots.

Changes in air pressure -This should not pose any unusual problems.  During flight, the air pressure in the plane cabin is adjusted to approximate the pressure you would experience around 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level.  At this height, you and your baby will each have less oxygen in your blood than you would at sea level.  Your bodies will adjust however and you should get along fine.

Seat belts -The seat belt should be adjusted snugly beneath your abdomen, across the tops of your thighs.

Fluids – Drink plenty of nonalcoholic and decaffeinated fluids before and during the flight.  The humidity level in the cabin is generally low and the extra fluids can help prevent dehydration.

For more information about traveling during pregnancy click here.

Image: John Wardell, Flickr