Blood Clots in African Americans
We may know of someone who have experienced blood clots but may not know the risks, causes, and symptoms. Below are a few of celebrities who were diagnosed with blood clots.
• Serena Williams was treated for blood clots in her lungs, called a pulmonary embolism (PE), shortly after an emergency C-section in 2017. She was hospitalized with a previous PE in 2011. Doctors say a pair of foot surgeries and a long flight could have caused a clot called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in her leg, which moved up to her lungs and blocked blood flow.
• Chris Bosh life-threatening blood clots in a lung forced the Miami Heat forward to cut his 2015 season short. Then a DVT did the same the next year. In 2017, the NBA ruled Bosh’s blood clots were career-ending, and the superstar left the league at age 33.
• NeNe Leakes, the Real Housewives of Atlanta star in 2013 noticed pain on the upper right part of her body. She also felt short of breath and went to a hospital. The symptoms turned out to have come from blood clots that had lodged in her lungs. Doctors said Leakes’s frequent cross-country flights probably were a reason behind her health scare.
• Nick Cannon, the entertainer, who was married to Mariah Carey at the time, quit his radio show in 2012 after doctors found blood clots in his lungs and an enlarged heart. Cannon had been hospitalized a month earlier for kidney failure. He said he had lupus, an autoimmune disorder that affects African Americans and Asian-Americans more often than whites. People with lupus may make protein antibodies that make blood more likely to clot.
• Heavy D, the hip-hop musician collapsed outside of his home in 2011 and died at a Los Angeles hospital. Coroners said the 44-year-old rapper was killed by a DVT that probably started in his leg during a flight home from London. The clot traveled to his lungs and choked his blood flow. Being obese can make you several times more likely to get both DVT and PE.
How blood clots effect African Americans?
An article published February 17, 2016 by the American Society of Hematology; study identifies common generic variants that double risk for blood clots in African Americans. One in three African Americans have a least one variant that increases the risk.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a disorder characterized by blood clots that form in the deep veins of the legs that can travel to the lungs and become fatal. Those who suffer from VTE often have one or several alterations in their DNA that affect normal function of the blood’s clotting process. Genotyping individuals to identify these genetic variants can help predict their risk. This study reports that the one-size-fits-all approach of looking for the same variants in all populations does not serve minorities, and the authors conclude that African Americans clearly require a specific approach when their risk for VTE is assessed.
In the United States, African Americans are 30 to 60 percent more likely to suffer from VTE than any other U.S. population.
According to the National Institute of Health on Minority Health and Health Disparities, researchers find generic variants linked to dangerous blood clots in African Americans. If a genetic variant that increases your
risk for the disease is found, the doctor can make better decisions on how to prevent future clots from forming. This includes suggesting lifestyle changes or blood thinning drugs at certain times, like during surgery
or after giving birth.
But if you’re African American, the genetic tests won’t tell your doctor much. That’s because they were developed from studies with mostly White people—and the genetic variants they test for are very rare in people of African descent. A genetic predictor for VTE is especially important for African Americans, since they are more likely than Whites to develop blood clots in the lung, which is a life-threatening form of VTE.
Researchers have examined the DNA of African Americans and found three new genetic variants that predict whether African Americans are likely to get VTE.
Three genetic variants were more common in African Americans with VTE. In fact, having any of the three variants more than doubled a person’s likelihood of having the disease. These genetic variants are not commonly found in other racial or ethnic groups, which explains why previous studies didn’t link them to VTE.
Deep vein thrombosis can be a fatal condition, especially if a blood clot that forms in a deep vein breaks free and travels through the bloodstream. Researchers are trying to learn more about DVT to help prevent these
According to AFRO “The Black Media Authority” article published December 1, 2016; blood clots are impacting black women in record numbers. While uncommon, new mothers are at an increased risk for developing VTE blood clots for up to 12 weeks after giving birth, according to a recent study from Weill Cornell Medical College researchers. The study discovered that 22 clot-related strokes, heart attacks, and clots in the legs or lungs occur within six weeks postpartum in every 100,000 deliveries, and another three clots occur in the next six weeks. After 12 weeks, the risk goes back to normal.
Although they do not cause blood clots, most birth control pills do increase a woman’s chance of developing a blood clot by about three to four times. … These hormones also increase the levels of clotting factors and are assumed to be responsible for women’s increased risk of blood clots during pregnancy.
Once diagnosed, clotting issues can be addressed through anti-coagulants. Professionals and families impacted by clot-related deaths, insist Blacks be vigilant and persistent in having blood clots diagnosed. Sometimes you must advocate for yourself and push your doctors to look for blood clots when your symptoms could read like asthma or other conditions that cause shortness of breath. Ask for a risk calculation of blood clots and if you are a caregiver to someone who is in hospital, insist risk management for blood clots be assessed. It is the difference between life and death.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), yet these conditions receive little attention. DVT/PE is an underdiagnosed, serious, preventable medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. These clots usually develop in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis, but they can also occur in the arm. In more than one-third of people affected by DVT, clots can travel to the lungs and cause PE, a potentially fatal condition.
Environmental risk factors for DVT and PE include any situation that decreases blood flow, such as remaining still during travel or confined to bed following surgery. Extra weight, smoking, taking hormones for birth
control or postmenopausal symptoms, certain cancer treatments, and pregnancy and recently giving birth are other risk factors that don’t evoke ancestry. Athletes aren’t immune and in fact may be at elevated risk if they
travel to sporting events or become injured or dehydrated and attribute symptoms to the event, not DVT.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) include: Unilateral swelling in a leg or an arm, pain or tenderness in the leg when standing or walking, increased warmth in the area that’s swollen or hurts, redness of the skin;
and noticeable enlargement of the veins in the leg or arm, difficult breathing, chest pain, and rapid heart beat.
Pulmonary embolism (PE) symptoms include sudden shortness of breath, sharp chest pain aggravated by coughing or moving, back pain, cough with or without bloody sputum, excessive sweating, rapid pulse or rapid
breathing, and lightheadedness or passing out.
A personal or family history of DVT or other cardiovascular condition also raises risk. It’s the identification of genetic risk factors that has been so Eurocentric. For them, mutation in the coagulation factor 5 gene hikes risk
3-5 fold, and in factor 2, 2-3 fold.
Protein S deficiency has been known since the 1980s to cause DVT and PE. Protein S deficiency is an inherited thrombophilia associated with an increased risk of thromboembolism. Protein S deficiency is an inherited
venous thrombotic disorder. A history of unexplained venous thrombosis in a patient younger than 50 years of age with a family history of venous thrombosis should prompt consideration of protein S deficiency. First, venous thrombosis with protein S deficiency typically occurs in otherwise healthy individuals at approximately 30 years of age. Thrombosis may be triggered by surgery, trauma, pregnancy, or prolonged immobilization,
such as car or plane rides longer than 8 hours. Venous thrombosis associated with protein S deficiency may occur in unusual locations, such as the portal vein, mesenteric vein, superior sagittal sinus, or arm veins, and in multiple veins simultaneously. Any of these indicators of unusual venous thrombosis should prompt consideration of protein S deficiency.
Protein S and Protein C are both natural substances in the blood that help to keep the blood from clotting. They act like natural anticoagulants or natural blood thinners. If you are deficient in one or both of these proteins, you are at an increased risk of developing dangerous blood clots, especially for women during pregnancy. * You can also acquire Proteins S deficiency from liver or kidney disease, HIV infection, or if you do not have enough vitamin K. This information focuses on the inherited or genetic form.
Blood clots are more likely to form in anyone after an injury or surgery and when you’re immobile for long stretches, whether from an illness or during a flight or car ride. Being active is a good way to try to prevent DVT. DVT is the reason airline passengers are encouraged to move their feet, to keep blood from pooling and triggering clot formation.
When you can’t be active, such as when you’re on bed rest or on an airplane, help to increase your circulation by doing flexion exercises, such as foot pumps, and wear compression socks.
Any time you have unexplained leg pain, even if it’s more a nagging discomfort rather than pain, have it checked out.