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Why am I more vulnerable to blood clots during pregnancy?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Uterine veins dilate up to 60 times larger than normal during pregnancy. The hormone relaxin helps relax the artery beds, and estrogen causes the cells lining your arteries to secrete nitric oxide to open them up. This dilation insures that blood runs freely to and from your uterus - to supply nutrients, drain waste, and create the perfect little darling who soon will be throwing peas on the floor. All of that arterial blood comes back to your heart by flowing into dilated veins. Because blood pressure is lower in veins than in arteries, and the walls of the veins are already loosened, there is a chance that blood can pool or stagnate in the presence of elevated estrogen levels,putting you at risk for clots.

In addition, fibrinogen, which is increased by estrogen, works like cement between bricks - to clot blood and slow down or shut off blood flow. In the grand scheme, you need this slowdown mechanism to prevent you from hemorrhaging during pregnancy and delivery. But as you can guess, this quick-fix mechanism means you have an increased tendency to clot during pregnancy.

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.