Deep vein thrombosis or DVT occurs when blood clots begin to form in the blood vessels. In most of the cases where deep vein thrombosis occurs, large blood clots form in the larger blood vessels that are present in the pelvic area and the legs.
Though anyone can suffer from deep vein thrombosis, pregnancy significantly increases the risk of developing these clots. Pulmonary embolism, which is a complication of deep vein thrombosis, could also occur in women who are pregnant. DVT does not directly affect the fetus in a pregnant woman however, when it gets complicated, pulmonary embolism can endanger the baby.
It has been found out that pregnant women are at a higher riskof developing DVT than non-pregnant women of the same age and physical condition. This occurs because the hormonal changes during pregnancy increase the blood’s ability to coagulate. This in turn increases the risk of formation of blood clots. As the uterus expands, the abdomen also expands and there is a considerable amount of pressure on the muscles beneath the uterus. As the pressure on the veins increases, the blood vessels constrict and the flow of blood decreases.
If a pregnant woman has a blood clotting disease or an inherited disorder relating to the clotting of blood, she may have even more complications. When the blood flow is slower, the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis increases manifold. If a woman has developed blood clots during a pregnancy, her chances of developing deep vein thrombosis in the subsequent pregnancies also increase substantially. If a woman at high risk of developing DVT does not develop it, she may develop it after the pregnancy has ended. The risk continues to be there till her hormone functions return to the normal levels.
DVT pregnancy symptoms are quite apparent, but are often confused with the symptoms of pulmonary embolism. In DVT, a woman may experience swelling and pain at the point where the clot has formed. There are red colored patches along with swelling in the areas where blood clots are present. The skin becomes tender around those areas. If there are complications, pulmonary embolism may be caused. The symptoms of pulmonary embolism are anxiety, breathing problems like excessive effort to breathe, pain in the chest area, chronic cough which increases chest pain, dizziness and in severe cases, complete loss of consciousness.Immediate medical counsel should be sought as soon as possible if any of these symptoms appear.