C-section patients need blood clot protection, obstetricians say

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(CBS) A leading obstetricians group has issued new guidelines for women undergoing C-sections, saying they should be fitted with inflatable compression devices to reduce the risk for blood clots.

The guidelines, issued by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say that wearing the sleevelike devices on the legs can help prevent thromboembolism. That's a condition in which a blood clot that forms in a leg travels via the bloodstream to the brain or other organs.

If the clot travels to the lungs, it can cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.

"Fitting inflatable compression devices on a woman's legs before cesarean delivery is a safe, potentially cost-effective preventive intervention," Dr. Andra H. James, who helped develop the guidelines, said in a written statement. "Inflatable compression sleeves should be left in place until a woman is able to walk after delivery or - in women who had been on blood thinners during pregnancy - until anticoagulation medication is resumed."

Pregnancy is associated with a fourfold increase in the risk for thromboembolism. The increased risk is linked to physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, including slower blood flow, blood that clots more easily, and reduced mobility.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has more on c-sections.