Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Blood Clots

Expected results from a 30-year observational study:

PHILADELPHIA - New moms should get up and start walking as soon as possible to prevent the risk of a potentially fatal blood clot, doctors advise.

Although the chances of such clots are rare, they are four times greater for pregnant women and new mothers, a large 30-year study found, confirming what doctors have long observed.

Mayo Clinic researchers looked at medical records from 1966 to 1995 of 50,000 pregnant women who lived in Olmsted County, Minn., where data has long been gathered for a long-term health surveillance project.

The researchers focused on blood clots in leg veins (known as deep vein thrombosis) and clots that broke loose and lodged in the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism).

The incidences of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism were small -— only 105 cases occurred over the 30-year period -— but the problem is of concern because it is frequently fatal when it does happen.


The top tip for all new moms: Get out of bed and start walking as soon as possible. For women with risk factors - such as obesity, a history of clots, and prolonged bed rest during pregnancy - doctors may consider using leg compression devices in the hospital to get the blood moving.

But blood thinners don't lead the list of possible solutions because of potential complications, like excessive bleeding.

"Anticoagulants should be reserved for a very small group, those only with a significant risk," Hankins said. "We don't want to recommend a strategy that could do more harm than good."

Heit said aspirin has been shown to be effective for preventing stroke and heart attack but it appears not to help prevent blood clots in leg veins.


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