Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disorder that causes multiple blood clots in arteries and veins, recurrent miscarriage and is accompanied with moderate thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). This condition is also known as Hughes syndrome.
Antiphospholipid syndrome accounts for almost 15 to 20 percent of all episodes of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in deep veins of leg), one third episodes of stroke in people below the age of 50 and 5 to 20 percent of frequent miscarriages.
Antiphospholipid syndrome affects almost all organs of the body including lungs, heart, brain, kidney etc.Antiphospholipid syndrome is incurable condition, but with medications long term recurrence of blood clots can be managed satisfactorily.
Signs And Symptoms Of Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Antiphospholipid syndrome clinically presents with blood clots in veins and arteries, fetal loss and low platelet count. The disorder can affect many organs of body. The symptoms noted are as follows:
- Blood clots in veins and arteries. If the clot breaks it can reach the lungs causing pulmonary embolism a dreaded life threatening condition.
- Stroke is the major event if antiphospholipid syndrome affects central nervous system. Blood clot in vessels of brain is the cause of stroke. Besides stroke, other neurological presentations include migraine in teenagers, seizures and optic nerve problems.
- Myocardial infarction can occur when the clot obstructs blood flow in coronary artery of the heart. This syndrome can also damage mitral and aortic valve in heart.
- Skin rash is present in some patients. The rash appears in net like pattern which in medical terminology is called livedo reticularis.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Antiphospholipid syndrome is a condition that affects phospholipids present in blood. It is an autoimmune disease. In this condition the immune system of the body mistakenly assumes phospholipids as foreign body and prepares antibodies to fight against it. Phopholipid is a type of fat as key function in clotting mechanism.
As the antibodies attack and destroy phospholipid, the blood tends to form clots in the blood vessels. In many cases of antiphospholipid syndrome the reason of clotting (thrombosis) remains unclear. However, researchers suspect certain possibilities such as another associated autoimmune disease, infection, and certain medicines to trigger APS.
Factors that increase the risk are:
- The condition is observed more in women than men.
- People suffering from another autoimmune disease such as lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Patient suffering from certain infections like HIV, syphilis, hepatitis C etc.
- Medications used for hypertension such as hydralazine, for treating arrhythmia of heart such as quinidine, or anti-epileptics such as phenytoin can be responsible for ASP.
- Family history of antiphospholipid syndrome increases the risk.
Many people have antiphospholipid antibody circulating in their blood, but they may not present with symptoms. The risk of symptoms increases among smokers, during surgery, pregnancy, women using contraceptive pills, or people having high cholesterol level.
Treatment Guidelines For Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Antiphospholipid syndrome is a lifelong condition. It cannot be cured completely. However, with medicines the complications arising from it such as blood clotting can be reduced and managed efficiently. Anticoagulant medicines are used daily to reduce the risk of recurrent thrombosis. Patient has to take treatment for long time.
When the patient is taking anticoagulant medicines the blood becomes thin and there is risk of bleeding from any orifice or from slight trauma. Hence the doctor from time to time monitors dosage schedule. In pregnant women suffering from APS, the chances of carrying pregnancy increases when she takes anticoagulant medicines.
Patient may take following home remedies and precautions if he or she is suffering from antiphospholipid syndrome.
- Avoid sports activities that can cause bruising or injury as it may cause intense bleeding if patient is taking anti coagulant medicines.
- While shaving, or using knives and scissors patient must take extra care.
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamin K. Foods that have plenty of vitamin K include broccoli, green leafy vegetables, beans and cabbage. Patient must avoid alcohol as it may increase the thinning effect of blood.