DVT and Pulmonary Embolism Associated with Factor V Leiden and Other Clotting Disorders

In our last newsletter we discussed the fact that the news anchor, David Bloom, had developed a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) which broke loose and became a Pulmonary Embolism which took his life. David had many risk factors such as prolonged immobility, dehydration as well as long-haul flights to Iraq which probably contributed to the development of David’s blood clot. David had a silent risk factor which he did not know about. He had Factor V Leiden – an inherited blood coagulant disorder that can increase a person’s risk of DVT. Factor V Leiden is the most common inherited clotting disorder in the United States.This disorder is present in 2% to 7% of Caucasians, less often in Hispanics and rarely in Asians and African-Americans. It accounts for 20% to 40% of cases of DVT.  Factor V Leiden is usually a hidden disorder, until someone in the family, someone who is athletic and healthy develops a DVT. Screening for Factor V Leiden is not usually done unless there are several members of the family who develop clots or one person develops several. Blood clots from Factor V Leiden can occur anywhere. The factor can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, miscarriage, or gallbladder dysfunction.

There are other inherited conditions which can cause blood clot formation. These include:

  • Prothrombin gene mutation
  • Deficiencies of natural proteins that prevent clotting (such as antithrombin, protein C, and protein S)
  • Elevated levels of homocysteine
  • Elevated levels of fibrinogen or dysfunctional fibrinogen
  • Elevated levels of factor VIII (this is still being investigated as an inherited condition) and other factors including factor IX and XI
  • Abnormal fibrinolytic system

There are other conditions that increase a person’s risk of developing blood clots and do not necessarily indicate a genetic risk. However, you may want to have a serious discussion with your physician about testing for these factors if you have:

  • Several members of your family with blood clots
  • Abnormal blood clotting at a young age (less than 50 years old)
  • Blood clots in unusual locations or sites, such as veins in the arms, liver, intestines, kidney or brain
  • Idiopathic blood clots (no clear cause)
  • Blood clots that reoccur
  • History of frequent miscarriages
  • Stroke at a young age

Just as it is important for you to know your risk factors for DVT, it is important for you to be aware of blood clots in your family history and their cause and wear your support stockings or support socks.

This is the last in this series of March is DVT Awareness Month. We hope you have enjoyed it. If you have missed any, they are all here on our blog, Ask Vanda  just scroll down to view. We would love to have you leave a comment about a DVT you have experienced or about a risk you have from a factor deficiency.


5 Responses

  1. Thank you for these articles. They have been very helpful.

  2. I, too, have Factor V Leiden. I am on Coumadin life-long since December 2011 – it was my second event. My first event was in May 1998 and I have both DVT and PE. At that time, I lived in the D.C. Metro Area, Factor V Leiden had just recently been discovered in Leiden, Netherlands and my blood work-up did not indicate any familial disorder. However, I had been given a low dose of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) for a year prior to the event – which I should never have been given. I was told that the HRT caused my near fatal event. I was on Coumadin for only a year with the first event, and was instructed by my physicians to take two baby aspirin a day from that day forward. I did that, faithfully, but unfortunately, it did not protect my body from Factor V Leiden. I know about David Bloom, but I did not know he had Factor V Leiden. I continue to wear compression stockings and will do so lifelong – however long that is.


    • Hi Diana, Thanks for leaving your comment. Walking is your best friend right now. If possible, get out and walk. The action of the calf muscle with the stockings really improves the circulation.

  3. Any woman, especially if she is over 40, taking high doses of hormones should be tested for Factor V Leiden in my opinion. As well- if a woman is taking any hormone and breaks a lower extremity a sonogram should be done after cast removal. I had a DVT after cast removal- I was on a trip to Ecuador and taking BC pills for a menopausal bleeding problem. I almost did not make it home alive. The doctor there told me there had been clotting around the lower part of my leg and ankle which went undiagnosed in the States. The large clot was on the brink of heading straight for my lungs when it was diagnosed and I was placed on a Heparin drip immediately. The BC pills were also stopped. I wear your Mediven stockings every day- have been wearing them since 2004 and will for the rest of my life. I wish I didn’t have to but it’s better than the alternative!
    Happy to be alive!

    I am a Public Health Nurse and will stop women who have lower leg casts and tell them to DEMAND a leg sono/doppler when their cast is removed. It’s a $15 or $20 co-pay for most of us. I WISH I had had one in 2004 after my cast was removed. I wear my stockings every day and walk at least 2 miles to keep those veins in shape! One my my happiest days was when the tech who dopplers my leg (now every 6 months minimum as I travel a lot) said the vein behind my knee was patent- that he finally saw good blood flow after 6 years of just a trickle. I was so happy and know I am taking good care of myself. No more DVTs for me! Keep those articles coming!

    • Thank you so much for leaving your comments. Congratulations on your Vein Health! It is good to know that recovery is possible. What happened to you is exactly what I have been cautioning others about. We must be proactive with our health care and educate ourselves!


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