Heart & Blood Conditions

Expert reports about Heart & Blood Conditions


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE VENOUS THROMBOSIS WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What is venous thrombosis during pregnancy?

Thrombosis is clotting of blood inside a blood vessel, which obstructs the flow of blood through the vessel. The process can occur in arteries (blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to tissues) or in veins (blood vessels that return blood toward the heart). Arterial thrombosis (thrombosis in an artery) is usually caused by a disease process on the inner wall of the artery, whereas venous thrombosis (thrombosis in a vein) is usually the result of a problem involving the body's coagulation system, which is comprised of numerous clotting factors (substances that promote or accelerate blood clotting), anti-coagulation factors (substances that slow down blood clotting), and special cells called platelets (also called thrombocytes).

 

Because pregnancy usually occurs in young, healthy women, most cases of thrombosis in pregnancy occur in veins rather than arteries. Veins are classified as superficial, deep, or central and the main concerns are deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and central vein thrombosis (CVT), because these can result in obstruction of the flow of large amounts of blood, plus the clot (or a piece of it) can break off, resulting in what’s called an embolism, a traveling clot, which is extremely dangerous. Along with causing an increased tendency to form clots, pregnancy also causes high pressure within the pelvis, which may cause a particular artery (the right iliac artery) to compress a particular deep vein (the left iliac vein) against the lower spine. This can obstruct blood flow in the deep venous system.


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