Factor V Leiden defines the abundant presence of the Factor V (5) protein, which is responsible for blood clotting. It’s occurrence is genetically determined and blood with Factor V deficiency is prone to excessive bleeding, while the Factor V Leiden genes make the individual vulnerable to blood clots. Studies place the patients with Factor V Leiden having 5x times more changes of developing thrombosis (clots in their veins). However, the numbers of persons that actually develop clots are much lower when referred to the total number of patients carrying this genetic predisposition.
Factor V genes are passed via our parents. We get one gene from each of our parents. Mother and fathers can have normal genes or Factor V Leiden genes. If one of them is a Factor V Leiden carrier the child has a slightly higher risk of developing clots (heterozygous). If both parents pass it (homozygous), the risk is much bigger.
This inheritance is more common in white people and in those of European origin.
Factor V Leiden Symptoms
The main symptom is the occurrence of blood clots. The most common area of thrombosis to develop is in the leg. The limb will swell, turn red and become painful or feel warm.
Depending on the size and the location clots will do no damage and disappear on their own, or they can travel to sensible areas, like ones lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, which is a very serious disorder. Most frequent symptoms are sudden shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and or pain while breathing in.
If the forms in a deep vein the condition is called deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
The patient suffers from thrombophlebitis if the blood clot occurs towards the surface of the skin. Symptoms are similar: redness, warmth and pain around the blood clotted vein.
Factor V Leiden Treatment
Doctors will perform a blood test and determine if you have the Factor V mutation. Treatment is only required if clots appear.Blood-thinning medicines such as heparin and wafarin are prescribed. Depending on the severity of the clots treatment can last a few months, or in severe cases it could be indefinite. In very severe clotting cases, surgery might be required to remove the clot.
If there is no clot history anticoagulant treatment could be required only in case of surgical interventions for curing other health problems.
Homozygous women (carrying both Factor V Leiden genes) need to receive anticoagulant shots with heparin during pregnancy.
Factor V Leiden Prevention
Here are a few tips for decreasing the risk of developing blood clots for people with Factor V Leiden:
– avoid sitting or standing in the same position for more than 2 hours. If you’re at the office stand up every 2 hours and do some stretching exercises, or for a brief walk. If you’re travelling on a plane or train use recommended exercises and don’t let your blood to stand still.
– quit smoking if you’re a Factor V Leiden carrier
– control your weight. Overweight and obese individuals enhance the risk of developing blood clots.
– women with Factor V Leiden should avoid contraceptive pills
– use compression stockings if you need bed rest following a surgery
– non-contact or low-contact sports should be your favorites in order to avoid injury but remain active and live a healthy life.