Sunday, November 7, 2010

Factor V Leiden: Blood Clots

Hi Everyone,

You may think there isn’t a problem discovering blood clots, but you’re wrong. If you don’t read my story someone in your family or a friend could develop this problem and the doctor’s might never find out what caused it.

Here’s my story: I was in my late fifties when I started having blackouts or drop attacks as many doctors call it. What would happen is that I would black out hitting the floor, and come to a few seconds later. I went to my primary care doctor, the one who’d found out I had fibromyalgia and peripheral neuropathy, and didn’t think I was crazy every time I had some new health issue develop.

The very first thing she thought of was blood clots, and I was sent to a cardiologist, who ran the usual tests on me. You know the ones, EKG, Stress test, checked my arteries, blood tests, etc. Nothing showed up. Everything was just fine. My doctor didn’t give up. She kept trying other things, but nothing was found.

A bit of time went by, and I had three blackouts in one night. I had gotten up in the middle of the night and coming back into the bedroom I dropped like a ton of bricks and scared my husband to death. I thought I had just bumped into the door and fell because I came to so fast.

Hubby didn’t have time to get back into bed before I hit the floor again. This time he made me lie still for a few minutes before getting up, and then he helped me up. We went into the bathroom to see if anything was bruised or broken. While looking me over I dropped again, but he caught me before I hit the floor this time and laid me down gently.

It didn’t happen again that night. The next morning I got into my primary care doctor and my husband was able to give her more details about what happened. All along she’d been thinking it had something to do with clots, but she wanted me to see an eye specialist at K.U. Med Center to eliminate one more thing. They both decided I should have a test for Factor V Leiden.

Factor V Leiden is inherited from your parents, it can come from both or just one. There are two forms of Factor V Leiden, one is Heterozygous factor V Leiden and it’s found in 5 % of the white population and is most common in people of Northern European descent and in some Middle Eastern populations. The homozygous form is found in fewer than 1%. Factor V Leiden is less common in the Hispanic population and is rare in Asian, African, and Native American populations. However, remember rare doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Factor V Leiden is treated with blood thinners or anticoagulants but not for long periods of time. In my case, I take three milligrams of folic acid and one aspirin a day, which was decided by both my primary care doctor and the blood specialist she sent me to. Since I started that regimen I haven’t had one black out.

I wasn’t the first person in my family who had these blackouts; my mom’s sister, Aunt Lucille, had these, and her doctor never found out what caused the problem. It took away her independence. Even I wasn’t able to drive for one year because of the fear of blacking out at the wheel.

What was happening to me is that little pieces of blood would form together in the artery blocking the blood flow to the brain, and I drop to the floor. It only lasted a few minutes because the blood flow coming behind it would force those pieces through.

The reason I’m blogging about this issue is because I have learned of another person outside of my family who is having blackouts and her doctor has not been able to find the reason for it. I believe this is a common occurrence. I was lucky that my doctor was a true detective, and she never gave up looking for the cause. I'm hoping with all my heart that this blog will help someone.

My information has come from the American Heart Association and my own experiences. I not only want to thank my doctor, Dr. Karladine Graves, but I want to thank my hubby for helping me so much during that time.

Thank you for reading. Have a great week, and I’ll see you next Sunday.



Nancy J. Parra said...

Very helpful, Sandy. Thanks for posting. Cheers~

Rebecca Royce said...

Thank you Sandy for this information!

Sandy said...

Thank you, Nancy.

Thanks, Becca. I'm hoping this information will help someone.

Paris said...

Interesting post, Sandy! Thanks for letting us know.

Sandy said...

You're welcome, Paris. Thanks for your comment.

Jill James said...

Sandy, Wow! I used to faint as a teenager but it turned out I was anemic. After some padding on my bones and iron pills I didn't faint anymore. It is great that you had a doctor who kept looking.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Jill. I was very lucky.

Celia Yeary said...

SANDY--thanks for this information. I've never heard of it, but I'll remember it. If I know of anyone having these spells, I will tell them about it. You were lucky to have a physician who was persistent--even when nothing showed up on tests. Celia

Sandy said...

Thanks for stopping by, Celia.

The reason for this post is to get the word out there.

Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of this. It sounds quite scary. Thanks for educating us!

Elaine Cantrell said...

Thanks for your post, Sandy. You never know how many people you may have helped.

Marianne Stephens said...

It's great that your doctor and husband helped in your effort to find the cause of your blackouts. Lots of people don't know about Factor V Leiden, but you've just educated us!

Sandy said...

You're welcome, Isis. Thanks for stopping by.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Elaine.

It's my greatest to help someone.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Marianne.

I didn't know about Factor V Leiden at all, and my doctor was just searching for an answer to my problem and found it .

Judy said...

How interesting. I had to almost die from pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs) in order to learn I too am Factor 5. And it wasn't a nice event in my life either. I was unaware that I had clots behind both knees that led to the PEs. I was on Hormone Replacement TherpyHRTs. AFTER they found the PE's they all but yanked me off of the HRTs because they thicken the blood. They did the same with my daughter's birthcontrol pills once she was found as Factor 5 becausee they too thicken blood and cause strokes, heartattacks etc. When makes me wonder how many women with Factor 5 have died from the above and if they had known they were genatically flawed, they could have been saved. But will any one listen? NO.
My daughter is now a doctor but during med school they discussed 'bleeders" but not 'clotters' until she brought the subject up. Insurance companies don't want to pay for this test because it is expensive. Had I known BEFORE that I was Factor 5, my PE's could have been prevented.
Get Tested!!!!

Sandy said...

Yay, Judy. You said it so well. Not many doctors know of this anonamaly. I'm so glad they caught yours in time to prevent a stroke or worse. I consider myself very lucky.

Thanks for your comment, Judy.