Understanding Risks of Blood Clotting during Pregnancy

Thrombophilias are a group of health conditions that increase a patient's chances of developing abnormal blood clots. If you have a form of thrombophilia, the professionals at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health can provide options to help ensure a safe, complication-free pregnancy. To learn more about our expertise assisting patients with blood clotting during pregnancy, contact our Phoenix, AZ, practice today and schedule your consultation.

Digital illustration of red blood cells

Thrombophilias Explained

Blood clotting refers to the clumping of proteins that naturally occurs to stop bleeding after a cut or scrape. However, when the body makes too much or too little of certain proteins that form blood clots, this can lead to thrombophilia. Clotting disorders can be caused by genetic abnormalities or acquired through another medical condition. A relatively common condition, thrombophilias affect about 20 percent of Americans.

Thrombophilia Symptoms

Thrombophilia often occurs without symptoms until another health condition related to clotting arises. A thrombosis, or a blood clot that forms in a blood vessel and blocks the flow of blood, is often a first sign of thrombophilia. Two main types of thromboses are:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): this condition usually occurs in the veins of the legs. Symptoms include swelling, pain, a sensation of warmth, and redness on the skin around the clot.
  • Cerebral vein thrombosis (CVT): this kind of thrombosis happens when a clot forms in a vein of the brain. Persistent headaches, seizures, and vision problems can all be signs of CVT.

Patients with thrombophilia can also suffer from an embolism, which is the sudden blocking of an artery. A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a clot occurs in one or more arteries of the lung, and it is a very serious and potentially fatal condition. Signs of PE include chest pain, difficulty breathing, feeling anxious, fainting, coughing blood, and a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Thrombophilia can also cause venous thromboembolisms (VTE). This occurs when a blood clot travels through the blood stream to a major organ. If the VTE blocks blood vessels in the heart or brain, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Risk of Clotting during Pregnancy

Patients may be at risk for developing thrombophilia during pregnancy if they:

  • Have a genetic predisposition for clotting
  • Have experienced blood clots before
  • Have had multiple births before
  • Have had a stillbirth, miscarriage, or premature birth in the past
  • Are at increased maternal age

Treatment for Thrombophilias

A pregnant woman with thrombophilia will require more frequent prenatal care appointments. At these visits, your health care professional will check your blood pressure and blood work. Ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and fetal heart rate monitoring may also be used to monitor the health of you and your baby.

Treatment plans for a thrombophilia during pregnancy will depend on the type of thrombophilia the patient has, as well as their personal and family history of clotting. Very often, treatment will include blood thinners. These medications inhibit the formation of clots and help to prevent new clots from forming. Aspirin and heparin are two types of blood thinners that are frequently prescribed to pregnant women with blood clots or those who are at risk of developing them. Following pregnancy, some women will continue to take heparin, while others may be given a prescription for warfarin. Warfarin is not taken during pregnancy since it is linked to birth defects, but it is safe to take after giving birth.

Contact Us to Learn More

The doctors and staff at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health have the experience to guide women with blood clotting disorders throughout each stage of pregnancy and ensure a safe live birth. To find out how we can reduce risks associated with clotting and protect the wellbeing of you and your growing family, contact Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health today.

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