I recently had blood clots in my leg (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms (PE) and doctors have said one of the contributing risk factors was being on birth control. I am a 40 yr old, non-smoker who was in excellent health, normal weight/BMI and walked about 1-4 hours a day 7 days a week. Please read the risk warnings before starting on any hormone based form of birth control. When they say it may lead to blood clots they weren’t joking. Honestly, I am lucky to be alive today. Don’t let the same thing happen to you. But talk to the experts…the doctors. If you’re not satisfied with his/her responses, then see another doctor. I’ve since joined a PE support group and found it interesting that nearly all of the woman who cited BC as a contributing factor were on YAZ.
Pulmonary embolism is a condition that occurs when an artery in your lung becomes blocked. In most cases, the blockage is caused by one or more blood clots that travel to your lungs from another part of your body.
Pulmonary embolism symptoms can vary greatly, depending on how much of your lung is involved, the size of the clot and your overall health — especially the presence or absence of underlying lung disease or heart disease.
Common signs and symptoms include:
Sudden shortness of breath, either when you're active or at rest.
Chest pain that often mimics a heart attack. The pain can occur anywhere in your chest and may radiate to your shoulder, arm, neck or jaw. It may be sharp and stabbing or aching and dull and may become worse when you breathe deeply (pleurisy), cough, eat, bend or stoop. The pain will get worse with exertion but won't go away when you rest.
A cough that produces bloody or blood-streaked sputum.
Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia).
Other signs and symptoms that can occur with pulmonary embolism include:
Clammy or bluish-colored skin
Lightheadedness or fainting (syncope)
Although anyone can develop blood clots and subsequent pulmonary embolism — together known as venous thromboembolism (VTE) — the following factors increase your risk:
Inactivity. You're not likely to develop a blood clot after an evening on the couch with a good book, but prolonged sitting in a cramped position during lengthy plane or car trips ups your risk. Inactivity slows the current of blood flow, which contributes to the formation of clots.
Prolonged bed rest. Being confined to bed for an extended period after surgery, a heart attack, leg fracture or any serious illness makes you far more vulnerable to blood clots. Although pulmonary embolism is a leading cause of hospital deaths, it's also a serious problem for nursing home residents, who are likely to have a number of risk factors for DVT, as well as for people immobilized at home.
Certain surgical procedures. Especially likely to cause blood clots are hip, pelvic and knee surgeries as well as some obstetric or gynecologic procedures.
Some medical conditions. Certain cancers, especially pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers can increase levels of substances that help blood clot, and chemotherapy further increases the risk. Women with a history of breast cancer who are taking tamoxifen or raloxifene also are at risk. High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease make clot formation more likely, as does having an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
Being overweight. Researchers aren't certain why weighing more than normal increases the risk of blood clots, but one theory links the formation of clots to leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells in the body. People who are overweight have more leptin-producing cells than slender people do, and so may be more prone to develop clots. Another theory is that the fat in obese women contains estrogen, which contributes to clot formation.
Pacemakers or venous catheters. Having a pacemaker or catheter — a soft, flexible tube — in a central vein makes the formation of clots more likely in that vein.
Pregnancy and childbirth. Pulmonary embolism is the leading cause of death in pregnancy. Some women who have pregnancy-related venous thromboembolism also have an inherited clotting disorder.
Supplemental estrogen. The estrogen in birth control and in hormone replacement therapy can increase clotting factors in your blood, especially if you smoke or are overweight.
Family history. Having a personal or family history of venous thromboembolism increases the risk of blood clots.
Smoking. For reasons that aren't well understood, tobacco use predisposes some people to blood clot formation, especially when combined with other risk factors.