What is thrombophilia?
Thrombophilia refers to a group of conditions where the blood clots more easily than normal. This can lead to unwanted blood clots (called thrombosis) forming within blood vessels. These blood clots can cause problems such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism.
What are the different types of thrombophilia?
Thrombophilia classified into inherited or acquired. The inherited ones are genetic, and can pass on from parent to child. Acquired thrombophilia cannot inherited, meaning they have nothing to do with your genes. Usually, acquired thrombophilia become apparent in adulthood. They can happen because other medical problems that have developed or they might be due to problems with the immune system. It is possible to have a mixed thrombophilia, due partly to genetic and non-genetic factors.
How Thrombophilia diagnosed?
Thrombophilia diagnosed by having blood tests weeks or months after a blood clot. The tests look for anticoagulant deficiencies. Before having the tests, patient will usually have to wait until he/she stopped taking anticoagulant medicine, such as warfarin, for four to six weeks.
If the blood test results indicate the patient have thrombophilia, patient referred to a hematologists (a specialist in diagnosing and treating blood disorders). The diagnosis is made using a screening test called a coagulation screening test or by genetic testing (DNA analysis) of the F5 gene.
What are the symptoms of thrombophilia?
There are no symptoms unless the thrombophilia results in a blood clot (thrombosis). Many people with thrombophilia do not get a blood clot and have no symptoms at all.
What is the treatment for thrombophilia?
The first step is for you and your doctor to consider how much risk there is of you getting a blood clot. This risk depends on a combination of things,
- What type of thrombophilia you have (some are more high-risk for blood clot than other).
- Your age, weight, lifestyle and other medical conditions.
- Whether you are pregnant or have recently given birth.
- Whether you have already had a blood clot.
- Your family history - whether any close relatives have had a blood clot.
This information will help your doctor to assess how much risk you have of getting a blood clot, and what type of blood clot could occur. Then you and your doctor can discuss the pros and cons of taking treatment and, if needed, what type of treatment to take.
Possible treatments for thrombophilia are:
Low-dose aspirin inhibits the action of platelets, so can help to prevent blood clots. It may also help prevent miscarriage or pregnancy problems, in some types of thrombophilia.
Anticoagulation called thinning the blood. However, it does not actually thin the blood. It alters certain chemicals in the blood to stop blood clots forming so easily - in effect; it slows down the clotting process. It does not dissolve a blood clot either (as some people incorrectly think). The body own healing mechanisms can then get to work to break up any existing blood clot.
Anticoagulation can greatly reduce the chance of a blood clot from forming. Anticoagulant medication used to treat a venous thrombosis (such as a DVT) or a pulmonary embolism.
Treatment in pregnancy
If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, discuss this with your doctor, and tell your midwife and doctor specializing in pregnancy and childbirth (obstetrician) about the thrombophilia.
Treatment for thrombophilia may be different in pregnancy because:
Some women with certain types of thrombophilia advised to take low-dose aspirin while pregnant, to help prevent miscarriage or pregnancy problems. The pregnancy itself increases the risk of a venous thrombosis - this applies to the whole pregnancy and especially to the six weeks after childbirth. So you may be advised to start anticoagulant treatment while pregnant or after childbirth. This will depend on the type of thrombophilia and your medical history.