Lauren Boebert diagnosed with May-Thurner syndrome after being treated for 'acute blood clot.' Here's what to know about the condition and its symptoms.

Representative Lauren Boebert stands in front of two House of Representatives flags.
Rep. Lauren Boebert was diagnosed with a vein-narrowing condition called May-Thurner syndrome after developing a blood clot. (Getty Images)

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign announced on Tuesday that the Republican congresswoman was found to have an “acute blood clot” and diagnosed with a condition called May-Thurner syndrome after going to the hospital the previous day. According to her team’s statement, Boebert, 37, sought medical treatment after developing severe swelling in the upper portion of her left leg. She subsequently underwent surgery to remove the clot and place a stent to keep her vein from narrowing again.

“After taking time to rest as recommended by doctors, she is expected to make a full recovery with no significant concerns for her long-term health and no hindrance to her ability to perform her duties as a Congresswoman,” her campaign said.

What is May-Thurner syndrome, and what are its symptoms? Here’s what you need to know about Boebert’s rare condition.

❓What is May-Thurner syndrome?

The vascular condition, also known as iliac vein compression syndrome or Cockett syndrome, causes a vein in the pelvis, called the iliac vein, to become dangerously compressed. When the left iliac vein, which carries blood back to the heart, is pressed by the right iliac artery, it can become narrow and compromise blood flow.

Most people never know they have the condition unless they form a blood clot as a result, just as Boebert did.

🩺 What are the symptoms and how is it diagnosed?

If the vein has become only slightly more narrow, most people have no symptoms and won’t be aware of the condition. But as it progresses, it can cause:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis.

  • Varicose veins in the upper portion of the leg.

  • Swelling in the leg, typically the left one.

  • Chronic leg pain that’s worse later in the day.

  • Chronic hemorrhoids.

The condition can be diagnosed with testing, including a pelvic ultrasound and a type of X-ray, called a CT venogram, that shows how well blood is moving through the veins, according to the Center for Vascular Medicine. But most people don’t realize they have May-Thurner syndrome until symptoms have been going on for months or years. It’s not uncommon for it to go undiagnosed until a blood clot forms.

🩸What are the risks of having May-Thurner syndrome?

The narrowed blood vessel can cause chronic pain in the hips and lower abdomen. If it progresses, the pain can spread to the leg — usually the left one — which may become severely swollen.

Sometimes May-Thurner can result in deep vein thrombosis (DVT), further blocking blood flow and causing more severe pain and swelling. DVTs are dangerous because they can break off and travel to the lungs, blocking blood flow to them. This is called pulmonary embolism, which is the third-leading cause of cardiovascular death.

📋 Am I at risk and what can I do about it?

According to the Center for Vascular Medicine, May-Thurner syndrome is most common among women between the ages of 20 and 45, particularly those who have experienced pregnancy or long periods of immobilization, though men can also be affected.

If you notice persistent pain in your pelvic area, or swelling in your left leg, it may be worth a visit to your primary care provider or ob-gyn, who may refer you to a vascular specialist. Treatment varies, but includes minimally invasive options aimed at reducing the risk of a blood clot forming, like having a stent surgically placed to keep the vein open (as Boebert did).

Cleveland Clinic advises that the best things you can do to prevent the development of May-Thurner syndrome and blood clots are to maintain a healthy weight, drink lots of water and stay active to promote healthy blood flow. Make sure you get up and move around often, since long periods of sitting can increase the risk of a blood clot. If you know you’re at risk, you should consider wearing compression socks while flying long distances or sitting for long periods of time. You may also want to use compression stockings during pregnancy.