Blood clots associated with uterine fibroids present an unexpected danger to fibroid sufferers, as two women found out. While incidences in which fibroids cause blood clots are low, it’s important to be aware of the risk.
Fibroids cause blood clots: two cases and commonalities
One patient at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital and the other patient at Seyyed-al Shohada University Hospital in Urmia, Iran) each were suffering from a pulmonary embolism. What did they have in common? Each:
- Was a woman in her 40s
- Had difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, right-side heart failure and other symptoms of an embolism
- Had an enlarged uterus that was caused by uterine fibroids.1,2
At first glance, it might seem as if the enlarged uterus was not related to the pulmonary embolism. However, what many women do not realize is that large fibroids in the uterus can potentially lead to blood clots, which can then lead to pulmonary embolisms or deep vein thrombosis (when the blood clot is deep within the leg).3
A uterine fibroid is the most common tumor to grow within the pelvis of women over 30 years old.2 Most of the time, these growths are an inconvenient or painful presence, causing symptoms of fibroids that include heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and constipation in about 25 percent of sufferers.3 While uncomfortable, these symptoms are not life-threatening.
How large fibroids cause blood clots
However, when large fibroids in the uterus grow too big, they can sometimes compress the pelvic blood vessels that lead to the heart and lungs. The result is slower blood flow through these vessels. And that backed-up blood flow can lead to the formation of clots.2
While the clots formed by large fibroids in the uterus can take a number of different forms, the most common, according to the American Journal of Case Reports, are pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).2 Often, according to Dr. Paul Forfia, MD, Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension/Right Heart Failure and Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy Program at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, pulmonary embolisms are the result of clots from DVT breaking loose and traveling up to the lungs.1
Dr. Forfia points out that pulmonary embolisms are dangerous because the clot blocks blood flow through the lungs. Thus the risks, as described above, include heart failure.
Fibroids need to be monitored
Blood clots formed by large fibroids in the uterus are rare. However, because of the speed with which they develop, and the danger they present, women need to be vigilant about having their fibroid growth monitored and managed. By having a doctor keep track of the growth, and/or by seeking out treatments like uterine fibroid embolization, women can reduce their risks of developing blood clots and related dangerous health conditions.
VIVA EVE can treat your fibroid issues
We at VIVA EVE have years of experience in the treatment of uterine fibroids (as well as adenomyosis). From consultation through treatment through follow-up, we provide high-quality, personalized care and we’re much-praised by what our patients.
Sources for information referenced in this post
- Forfia, P. (2016). Medical Mystery: Difficulty breathing, light-headedness in walking. Retrieved July, 25, 2016.
- Khademvatani, K., Rezaei, Y., Kerachian, A., Seyyed-Mohammadzad, M. H., Eskandari, R., & Rostamzadeh, A. (2014). Acute pulmonary embolism caused by enlarged uterine leiomyoma: A rare presentation. American Journal of Case Reports, 15: 300-303. doi: 10.12659/AJCR.890607
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital—Center for Uterine Fibroids. (2016). About Uterine Fibroids. Retrieved July 26, 2016.