Your doctor may suspect factor V Leiden if you've had one or more episodes of abnormal blood clotting or if you have a strong family history of abnormal blood clots. Your doctor can confirm that you have factor V Leiden with a blood test.
Doctors generally prescribe blood-thinning medications to treat people who develop abnormal blood clots. This type of medicine usually isn't needed for people who have the factor V Leiden mutation but who have not experienced abnormal blood clots.
However, your doctor might suggest that you take extra precautions to prevent blood clots if you have the factor V Leiden mutation and are going to have surgery. These precautions might include:
- A short course of blood thinners
- Leg wraps that inflate and deflate to keep blood moving in your legs
- Compression stockings
- Going for walks soon after surgery
Lifestyle and home remedies
Some precautions to help reduce your risk of blood clots include:
- Keep your legs moving. When your legs remain still for hours, your calf muscles don't contract, which normally helps blood circulate. If you're on a long plane trip, raise your toes up and down and rotate your ankles every hour or so. Drink extra water to prevent dehydration, and avoid alcohol. On a car trip, take periodic breaks and walk around.
- Consider compression stockings. These types of socks, which usually come up to the knees, help improve blood circulation in your legs. Ask your doctor if they might be a good option for your situation.
- Be cautious with estrogen. Oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement therapy can increase the risk of blood clots on their own, so be sure to discuss the risks and the benefits of estrogen-containing medications with your doctor if you have factor V Leiden.
Prevent excessive bleeding
If your factor V Leiden requires you to take anticoagulant medication, here are some steps that might help you prevent injury and avoid excessive bleeding:
- Avoid playing contact sports or engaging in other activities that could result in physical injury. Regular noncontact exercise, such as walking or swimming, is still recommended for good health.
- Use a soft toothbrush and waxed floss.
- Avoid shaving cuts by using an electric razor.
- Be cautious with household tasks involving knives, scissors and other sharp tools.
Preparing for your appointment
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in genetic disorders (geneticist) or a specialist in blood disorders (hematologist) for testing to determine whether the cause of your blood clots is genetic and, specifically, whether you have factor V Leiden.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
- List any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- List your health history, including your history of blood clots. Include any family history of blood clots or known family members with factor V Leiden.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking, along with the dose for each.
- List questions to ask your doctor.
For factor V Leiden, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Do I need to see a specialist?
- Does my factor V Leiden need to be treated?
- Do I need to take medication to prevent additional blood clots?
- What types of side effects can I expect from the medication?
- Do I need to limit my activity in any way?
- If I have children, do they need to be tested?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
If your doctor recommends genetic testing, some questions you might want to ask the genetic specialist include:
- How accurate is this test?
- What are the risks of the test?
- What information will come out of the test?
- What will a positive or negative result tell me?
- Can the results of the test affect my ability to obtain health insurance?
- Is an uncertain result possible, and what would that mean?
- What are my treatment options if a mutation is found?
- Could other family members be affected?
- Should my children be tested?
- What measures are in place to protect my privacy?
- How experienced is the lab at performing this test?
- How long will it take to get results back?