Table of Contents

Antiphospholipid Syndrome

What is antiphospholipid syndrome?

Antiphospholipid syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder characterized by the immune system attacking some of the normal proteins in the blood, which can cause blood clots in the arteries or veins.

What causes antiphospholipid syndrome?

In antiphospholipid syndrome, the blood clots abnormally because the body mistakenly produces antibodies that attack phospholipids, a type of fat that plays a key role in clotting. Antiphospholipid syndrome can be caused by an underlying condition, such as another autoimmune disorder, infection, or certain medications, or it can be developed without an underlying cause. The exact reason behind this phenomenon is not known.

What are the symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome?

Common signs and symptoms associated with antiphospholipid syndrome include the following:
  • Blood clots in the legs, which can spread to lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Repeated miscarriages or stillbirths
  • Premature delivery
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia)
  • Stroke
  • Transitory ischemic attack
  • Red rash with a lacy, net-like pattern (livedo reticularis)
  • Chronic headaches, including migraines
  • Dementia
  • Seizures
  • Damage to heart valves
  • Abnormal bleeding

How is antiphospholipid syndrome diagnosed?

Antiphospholipid syndrome is diagnosed based on a thorough medical history, observation of characteristic symptoms, and the results from laboratory blood tests. The blood tests will reveal a presence of antibodies to phospholipids; to confirm a diagnosis, the antibodies must appear in your blood at least twice, in tests conducted 12 or more weeks apart.

What are the available treatments for antiphospholipid syndrome?

There is currently no cure for antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. However, medicines can help prevent complications. The goals of treatment are to prevent blood clots from forming and to keep existing clots from getting larger. These treatments can include:
  • Heparin
  • Warfarin
  • Aspirin

Where can I find out more about antiphospholipid syndrome?

Antiphospholipid Syndrome Articles