Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingNew mothers have more to worry about than getting the baby to sleep. New moms should get up and start walking as soon as possible to lower the risk of a potentially deadly blood clot. While such clots are rare, they are four times more common among pregnant women and new mothers, according to a large thirty-year study.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic looked at the medical records of fifty-thousand women. They focused on blood clots in the legs, DVT or deep vein thrombosis, and clots that break apart and travel to the lungs, what are called pulmonary emboli.
Only 105 cases occurred over the thirty-year period, but when it does it's often fatal. In fact, with a pulmonary embolism, the first and only symptom is often sudden death. Over the past thirty years, pulmonary embolism has overtaken all other causes of death related to pregnancy.
So what is it about pregnancy that makes this condition more likely? It has to do with hormones and clotting factors, what we call a hypercoagulable state. You're more likely to form a clot when you are pregnant and three months post-partum
To prevent it from happening, you should get up and walk around - especially if traveling long periods and pregnant. Also, if you are on prolonged bed rest like after surgery, sometimes use leg compression devices, sometimes use blood thinners when the risk is very high.