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New moms at greater risk for blood clots than previously thought

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Doctors now warn that women are at greater risk for developing blood clots after giving birth than previously thought. In act a new study led by Dr. Hooman Kamel, a specialist in neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan, states that their risk for blood clots, as well as heart attacks and stroke is actually “11 times greater during the first 6 weeks after delivery, and doubles during weeks 7-12. As a result, he recommends that new moms who experience chest pains, pressure in the chest, have trouble breathing, severe headaches, swelling in one leg, a sudden loss of equilibrium and or sudden inability to speak seek medical help immediately. This of course goes for everyone as well, but especially for those who have given birth recently.

The conclusions were based on a study of nearly 2 million California women who had given birth to their first child, and followed them for the next 18 months. Within that time more than 1000 of them developed blood clots including 720 clots in their legs or lungs, 47 had heart attacks, and 248 had strokes.

Kamel also noted that “pregnant women are more prone to blood clots because components in their blood meant to prevent excessive bleeding during labor increase naturally, and blood from the legs has more trouble traveling to the heart.”

For the most part, however, blood clots in the legs usually just result in pain, but they can be fatal about 10% of the time if they travel to other parts of the body, especially the lungs.

Note: Dr. Kamel earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard College and his MD from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Prior to coming to New York, he served as member of the stroke and neuroctitical care unit at the University of California, San Francisco.