According to a recent article in Healio, the National Institute of Health states that one-third of strokes occurring for the first time to people under fifty can be linked to antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), a rare autoimmune disease.
The agency indicates that the syndrome is possibly responsible for about one percent of thromboses (blood clots) and affects one out of two thousand people in the U.S.
Women Five Times More Likely to Have APS
Similar to other autoimmune diseases, APS occurs more often in women. In fact, women are impacted five-fold more often than in men. About ten to fifteen percent of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have APS.
It is estimated that about twenty-five percent of women who have had two or more spontaneous miscarriages are affected by APS. Pulmonary embolism events, amputations, and twenty percent of deep vein thrombosis events have also been linked to APS.
APS is characterized by recurring blood clots that can form in any blood vessel in the body. The symptoms vary and depend on the location of the blood clot and the organ that is affected.
In APS, antibodies attack proteins that bind to phospholipids (fatty molecules) found throughout the body and are responsible for the function of cell membranes.
The severity of APS may range from minor blood clots to a rare form involving multiple clots throughout the body. The blood clots generally develop at one site.
If the clots interfere with blood flow to the brain, several issues may develop such as stroke or possibly seizures.
When clots occur in deep veins, mostly in the legs, the result is deep vein thrombosis. A clot may break off and travel to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism.
APS may cause complications in pregnancy such as multiple miscarriages and fetal growth delays.
Researchers suggest possible causes of APS might include environmental and genetic factors but the exact cause of the disease is not known.
The Need For More Awareness
The president of the APS Foundation, Christina Pohlman, would like to see more mainstream attention given to APS in order to counter many incorrect and delayed diagnoses
The Foundation (APSFA) began in 2005 and is the only non-profit U.S. agency bringing to awareness of APS. Ms. Pohlman, an APS patient, helped to establish an APS awareness month to broadcast accurate information to the community and the medical profession. Ms. Pohlman is pleased to announce that June is officially the APS Awareness Month and June 9th is the World APS Awareness day.
APSFA supports patients, their families, caregivers, and friends through its social media network. The organization intends to increase awareness and education of APS and fund relevant studies.
What are your thoughts about this rare disease?