Protection from clots urged for C-sections

Associated Press / August 30, 2011

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WASHINGTON - New advice for pregnant women: If you are getting a C-section, special inflating boots strapped on your legs may lower the risk of a blood clot.

Hospitals use these compression devices for other major operations, such as hip replacements, and a growing number offer them for at least some of their caesarean deliveries.

Now guidelines for the nation’s obstetricians say it is time to make the step routine for most C-sections, which account for nearly a third of US births.

The recommendations raise awareness of what is a silent threat not just for pregnant women but for thousands of other people: blood clots that can masquerade as simple leg pain.

Called a DVT, for deep vein thrombosis, this kind of clot usually starts in the leg or groin. But it can kill if it moves up to the lungs. These clots make headlines every few years when seemingly healthy people collapse after long airplane flights or similar prolonged inactivity. Certain surgeries also can trigger a DVT. Earlier this year, tennis star Serena Williams was treated for clots in her lungs discovered after foot surgery and cross-country travel.

A woman’s risk of a DVT jumps during pregnancy and the six weeks afterward. That’s partly because of slower blood flow from the weight gain, and because pregnancy temporarily changes blood to make it clot more easily.

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