Each year over 50,000 people die from blood clots. The medical term for clots that travel to the lungs is pulmonary embolism.
Top three factors that cause these killer clots:
- Inflammation – When people are in hospital they are usually there for a condition that is related to inflammation or infection. Surgery causes inflammation and inflammation causes clots.
- Being bedridden – Lack of walking leads to a stagnation of the blood in the legs. This increases the chance of clotting. That’s why surgeons are so insistent on getting you up to walk soon after surgery.
- Inherited tendency – Certain people have inherited the tendency to form clots. This condition is referred to as hypercoagulability and this can hit at any age.
- The most common genetic or inherited tendency to hypercoagulability is an abnormal gene called factor 5 Leiden. Close to 30% of the time someone gets blood clots it is because they have factor 5 Leiden.
- The second most common cause of hypercoagulability is the female hormone estradiol and this can be caused by taking too high an amount of estradiol as part of her bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
Men and blood clots
Men also need to be concerned about estradiol.
Men make estradiol and this is not a problem if they have adequate amount of testosterone because testosterone offsets the clotting effect of estradiol in men just like progesterone does in women. As they get older, men often make less testosterone and more estradiol. This is especially true if they drink too much or are overweight. This switch in hormone balance can cause hypercoagulability.
How to prevent blood clots after surgery
So this is what I encourage you to do if you are anticipating surgery, especially if you have a family history of blood clots or are on hormone replacement therapy – ask your doctor to run some tests to check your:
- fibrinogen levels
- factor V Leiden,
- rothrombin activity
- protein C activity
- protein S activity
- fasting plasma homocysteine.
- have your progesterone levels checked ladies
- men have you testosterone levels checked
If these tests are negative there is less chance that you will have a blood clotting problem. If they are abnormal, then your doctor can take action to help you.
It is always handy to be able to help yourself and so I hope this bit of information is both interesting and helpful for you.