What is Thrombophilia?
Thrombophilias are a common
group of disorders that make a person more likely to develop blood clots in the
veins of their legs, pelvis or lungs. Below is a list of some known
thrombophilias are tendencies and not certainties. A woman with a
thrombophilia will probably never have a blood clot. However, her chances
of having a blood clot are greater compared to a woman without a thrombophilia.
Simple blood tests can be
done to determine whether you have a thrombophilia. If you would like more
information about thrombophilia testing, talk to your doctor or contact us.
What are Deep Vein
Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism?
Deep vein thrombosis
occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the pelvis or leg.
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include pain, swelling, redness or warmth in
the affected area. Deep vein thrombosis can lead to a more serious
condition, called pulmonary embolism (see below).
occurs when a fragment from a vein blood clot (called an embolus) breaks off,
travels in the blood and gets stuck in the blood vessels of the lung.
Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening if it blocks the blood supply to the
lung. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, chest
pain that worsens with a deep breath, fast heart beat, sweating, fainting and
coughing with blood in the sputum.
In certain situations, a
blood thinner (called low molecular weight heparin) is given to prevent or treat
deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
What about Thrombophilia
and Pregnancy Complications?
Pregnancy increases the risk of developing blood clots in the legs, lungs, pelvis and placenta. As described above, people with thrombophilia are more likely to develop blood clots in the veins of their legs, pelvis or lungs.
Pregnant women with thrombophilia have a greater chance of having certain pregnancy complications possibly linked to blood clots in the placentas. These complications are::
Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy where protein leaks into
small birth weigh baby (called intrauterine growth restriction)
Bleeding in the placenta before delivery (called abruptio placenta)
At the present time, the
standard of care for pregnant women with thrombophilia is close monitoring
for the development of these pregnancy complications. If these
complications occur, they are treated accordingly. However, no treatment
has been proven to prevent these complications in pregnant women with
Is there Any Research
Yes. There is
a Canadian clinical trial called TIPPS (Thrombophilia In Pregnancy Prophylaxis
Study). The goal of TIPPS is to determine whether a blood thinner (called
low molecular weight heparin) can prevent pregnancy complications in pregnant
women with thrombophilia. The trial office is located in Ottawa, ON Canada
(contact us). There are 16 hospitals across Canada, 3 hospitals in Australia and 1 hospital in the United States that are currently participating in this trial. For more
information on TIPPS, click here.
What is Low Molecular
Low molecular weight
heparin is an anti-coagulant, a medication that thins your blood. In high-risk situations,
such as surgery, it may be used to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary
embolism. It is also used to treat deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary
embolism once they have been diagnosed. Low molecular weight heparin can
only be given in injectable form (by needle). It is given by injection
into the fat just underneath your skin, usually the stomach. It usually
has to be injected once or twice a day.
Low molecular weight
heparin is safe to use in pregnancy and while breast-feeding. It does not
cross the placenta so can not enter your baby's blood stream.
Although low molecular
weight heparin is usually safe, there are some side-effects that can occur.
Bleeding is the most common side effect. Uncommon side-effects are
osteoporosis (a condition which bones become fragile and more likely to break), fractures and low platelet
levels (called thrombocytopenia). These rare side effects are reversible once low molecular weight heparin is stopped.