Women with 4 key risk factors at much greater risk of killer blood clots, scientists discover | The SunSeptember 19, 2023
WOMEN with four common medical conditions are eight times more likely to suffer from dangerous blood clots, new research shows.
Though they're less common if you're young and healthy they can affect anyone, occurring when blood pools and clumps together.
If not seen to quickly, blood clots can be life threatening.
A study conducted by Queen Mary University of London – published in iScience – found that women with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and kidney disease had an eight times greater chance of blood clotting compared to those with none of these conditions.
Roughly one in every six women with the four conditions in the study suffered a blood clot, according to the researchers.
Meanwhile, women with three of the common conditions were five times more likely to get a blood clot.
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And if they lived with two of these ailments, they were twice as likely to get a blood clot.
The researchers examined the health data of 20,048 British-Bangladeshi and British-Pakistani women from the Genes & Health project, a large community-based genetics study.
Aside from looking at how common conditions raised women's likelihood of suffering deadly clots, researchers also observed that having a specific gene mutation and being prescribed oestrogen both raised the risk.
The mutation in question was the the Factor V Leiden (FVL) gene mutation.
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And women are commonly prescribed oestrogen for contraception purposes or as part of hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms.
The study authors observed that women with the mutation who also used oestrogen had more than double the risk of blood clotting compared to women who didn't have it.
Meanwhile, almost 20 per cent of the women carrying the FVL gene, taking oestrogen and living with two medical conditions suffered a blood clot.
Having the FVL gene raised the risk considerably, researchers said, as only around 5 per cent of women taking oestrogen who had two conditions suffered a clotting event.
But one in three of those who had the FVL gene mutation and three of the medical conditions fell victim to blood clots.
While oestrogen use, FVL, and common medical conditions are all known risk factors of blood clots, previous studies haven't looked at the combined risk of these factors.
Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, from Queen Mary University of London, said: “Our study gives a more complete picture of blood clotting in Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities who have previously been underrepresented in research.
“Genetic testing of the FVL gene mutation could give a clearer sense of someone’s personalised risk of this potentially fatal complication if they were prescribed oestrogen.”
Seeing as women as very commonly prescribed oestrogen for contraception or menopause treatment, Dr Emma Magavern – lead author of the study from Queen Mary University of London – weighed in on whether they should be worried or cautious.
“Many women will take oestrogen at some point in their lifetime," she said.
"Overall, this is very safe and there are far more positives to taking it than negatives when it’s prescribed. But these women may not be aware of the combined risk of their genetics and overall health and how it affects their risk of developing a blood clot, which could be life-threatening for some individuals.
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“It’s important that women have all the information they need to make an informed choice. While our results are important for women everywhere, they are especially relevant for South Asian women with multiple existing health conditions.”
Recent research has warned that women who pop ibuprofen while on the Pill are at higher risk of killer blood clots.
Symptoms of a blood clot
There are two types of blood clots.
A blood clot in one of the large veins in someone's leg or arm is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
If not treated, DVT can move or break off and travel into the lungs.
Meanwhile, a blood clot in the lung is called a pulmonary embolism (PE) – this can be deadly and requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of a DVT include:
- swelling in your arm or leg
- pain or tenderness not caused by an injury
- skin that's warm to the touch, with swelling or pain
- redness of the skin
Symptoms of PE include:
- difficulty breathing
- sudden, sharp chest pain that might get worse when you breathe in
- coughing up blood
- fast or irregular heartbeat
Source: NHS, CDC
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