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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Pregnancy and the Increased Risk of Developing Blood Clots
Pregnant women have a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.1
The three main risk factors (things that increase risk) for
deep vein thrombosis and
pulmonary embolism are abnormal clotting, reduced
blood flow, and damage to the veins. These risks are all higher during
pregnancy, most likely because of:
Women who are obese, are older than 35, or have a family or
personal history of blood clots have a higher risk of developing a clot that
can lead to pulmonary embolism.
After delivery, the risk for blood clots is higher than during pregnancy. This risk usually returns to
normal after a few weeks after delivery.2
If a woman has a cesarean section, she is even
more likely to develop one or more of these clots.
Women with the following
history may be screened for genetic factors that can increase the risk of
forming blood clots:
For pregnant women who are more likely to develop blood
clots, several methods may be used to prevent deep vein thrombosis and
pulmonary embolism. These include:
For pregnant women who are diagnosed with deep vein
thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, treatments may include:
If a woman has deep vein thrombosis during or after
pregnancy, anticoagulant medicine is usually continued for a few weeks to a few months after giving birth.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2011). Thromboembolism in pregnancy. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 123. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 118(3): 718–729.
Tapson VF, Becker RC (2007). Venous thromboembolism.
In EJ Topol, ed., Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine,
3rd ed., pp. 1569–1584. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and
December 28, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jeffrey S. Ginsberg, MD - Hematology
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