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Front Page - Friday, March 21, 2014

Health Corner

What you should know about Factor V Leiden

Factor V Leiden (FAK-tur five LIDE-n) is a mutation of one of the clotting factors in the blood called factor V. This mutation can increase your chance of developing abnormal blood clots (thrombophilia), usually in your veins.

As I approached my early twenties, I was married and had one beautiful baby girl. When she turned two, we decided we wanted to start trying to extend our family. We easily became pregnant, but maintaining the pregnancies we learned would be a completely different story. We found ourselves with child one month after we started trying. The pregnancy was going great! We went in for our first ultrasound to find out that we were actually expecting identical twins. Yes, we were dumbfounded. My doctor warned us of all the complications with this type of pregnancy and the survival rate of both twins. We felt confident that everything was going to go fine, and in nine months, we’d be holding two more beautiful babies. It was not until week 19 that I started to suspect something was not right. I had called my husband at work and let him know I wanted to go to the doctor. As we left the doctor that afternoon, we knew we were going home with only one baby still cooking. Although we were sad, and the process at that point in the pregnancy was difficult, we were still feeling so blessed that Baby B, as we were naming it, was looking great! At this point, I felt the pregnancy would be much easier considering there was only one baby who would need blood, nutrients, etc... Fast-forward two weeks and, once again, I felt there was something not right. This time, leaving the hospital was much harder, and I had a huge feeling of emptiness – literally. We would recover and would actually end up experiencing the loss of two more children late in my first trimester. This is very hard for women to comprehend and deal with. Our bodies are supposed to be able to make babies. It was then that I decided I wanted to figure out why I was forming blood clots throughout my body – including the umbilical cords of my precious children.

After extensive blood work was run, everything looked great except one test called the Activated Protein C Resistance test. This particular test determined I was resistant to activated Protein C, which is one of the anti-clotting proteins that controls Factor V. After this was confirmed, I underwent genetic testing to confirm the results, but also to determine if I had inherited one or two copies of the trait. I had inherited two copies, which is also known as homozygous. Basically, my Protein C factors from both sides of my families fail to prevent blood clots. Due to the family history of DVT on both sides, I would be on a blood thinner for the rest of my life. I would as well need to start using an injection form of a blood thinner once I became pregnant again. The next November, I was blessed to find out on Thanksgiving Day that I was once again pregnant. I immediately stopped taking my Coumadin pills and switched to Heparin injections. I used these twice a day throughout my pregnancy. I went on to have another beautiful baby girl, and then 15 months later, a precious baby boy. As of today, I have three beautiful baby children ages eight, three, and two. Their names are Paige, Gwynn, and Landon, and we could not be more thankful. They have blessed our lives in so many ways.

I’m still battling getting my blood levels under control. I still go into the doctor to have my blood checked every week, and end up with a dosage change every time. It can be a job in itself just to keep up with which dose I’m taking on which day. Everyone in my family that has undergone testing tested positive as well. Unfortunately, the medical association doesn’t think it’s necessary to make this blood test a priority. I feel very differently on this matter. I know in my family it has been the sole reason we have suffered from blood clots, especially in the legs. This disorder does not discriminate: healthy, unhealthy, underweight, normal weight, overweight – it doesn’t matter, and it can be very difficult to deal with. The main problem comes when you get it from both sides. This raises your risk dramatically. In my mind, I could almost guarantee people who suffer from blood clots suffer from this disorder, but they will never know because most people have no clue it exists. I currently take 12 mg of Coumadin every other day and 10 mg on the other days. I urge anyone who has suffered with blood clots to have the appropriate test done to see if it is in your heredity. My husband and I will be paying for all of our children to be tested when they turn 10. Some people might think this is crazy, but if I can save my children, especially my daughter’s pain and suffering later on in life, by simply running a blood test, it’s completely worth it to me. Most people would not think too much into this disorder, but for me, it’s scary. Blood clots are no joke. Many times, they can give very little warning, and what warnings there are can easily be mistaken for something else. To know I have an amazing husband and three wonderful children, blood clots are just not something I want to ponder. I as well hate dealing with Coumadin. I am a very busy person, and tend to run into anything and everything in my way. I currently have bruises all over my legs. Not the best look. I also usually always have headaches, but headaches are much easier to deal with than blood clots. So as I turn 30 next month, I’m saying “CHEERS” to Coumadin, bruises, headaches, and getting my fingers pricked constantly. Is there anything worse than that stupid little needle that pokes you on the end of your finger? This annoying little needle every week keeps me that much healthier. As I look back on my time since learning I have this disorder, it’s bittersweet. On one hand, it drives me crazy to have to deal with and is quite a burden; on the other hand, I know I’m beyond blessed to be dealing with only this small health issue. If you suffer or have suffered from DVT, please do not hesitate to ask for this blood test. It could very well explain why you are suffering or have suffered, and in best case save your life.

Source: www.mayoclinic.org