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C-Sections Linked to Doubled Risk for Blood Clots
Date:8/26/2011

FRIDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of thromboembolism -- a potentially fatal condition in which blood clots block blood flow causing damage to the organs -- is higher during pregnancy, experts warn.

And having a Caesarean section nearly doubles that risk, according to experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. As a result, the group issued a new recommendation that all women having a C-section wear inflatable compression devices on their legs at the time of delivery to prevent clots from forming. In more risky cases, the group advised that women also receive anti-clotting medications (anticoagulants).

"VTE [venous thromboembolism] is a major contributor to maternal mortality in this country. The risk of VTE is increased during pregnancy and the consequences can be severe," Dr. Andra H. James, who helped develop the guidelines, said in a college news release. "It's important for ob-gyns to adopt these recommendations to help reduce maternal deaths."

VTE in pregnancy usually affects the deep veins of the left leg. Most women who develop clots in their lower legs will experience pain or swelling there, the authors noted.

Clots could also travel to the lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolism. Symptoms of this other potentially deadly condition include sudden shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing.

Pregnant women are at greater risk for VTE due to certain physiological changes they experience, including:

  • Blood that clots more easily
  • Slower blood flow
  • Compression of pelvic and other veins
  • Decreased mobility

In addition, women who have high blood pressure, a personal history of VTE or excessive clotting, as well as those who are obese or smokers are also at higher risk for the condition.

"Fitting inflatable compression devices on a woman's legs before cesarean delivery is a safe, potentially cost-effective prevent
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