Antiphospholipid syndrome

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Antiphospholipid syndrome

What is antiphospholipid syndrome?

Antiphospholipid syndrome (AS) is a type of autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own phospholipids which are found in all living cells. The lining of blood vessels or the blood cells themselves can be impacted which makes this a serious medical condition. It makes the blood thicker and the person affected becomes more at risk for clotting problems in the arteries and veins.    

Who can develop antiphospholipid syndrome?

This form of autoimmune disease is more commonly seen in young females usually around the ages of 30 to 40.

Where does antiphospholipid syndrome occur?

Antiphospholipid syndrome can cause serious blood clots in the brain, lungs, legs, and kidneys.

Causes

What is the cause of antiphospholipid syndrome?

The cause of antiphospholipid syndrome is not well understood like with most autoimmune disorders.  It is believed to be related to the body making antibodies that attack its phospholipids making the blood in the body more likely to clot. These antibodies usually interfere with the normal clotting mechanism placing someone at higher risk of developing clots in veins or arteries.

What are the risk factors for antiphospholipid syndrome?

There are some risk factors associated with the development of antiphospholipid syndrome:

  • Environmental factors- Bacterial and viral infections have been associated with antiphospholipid syndrome.
  • Autoimmune diseases- People with a history of autoimmune conditions such as lupus have been linked to antiphospholipid syndrome as well.
  • Sex- women have higher tendencies to develop this form of autoimmune condition.
  • Genetics- There have been some studies that show genetic mutations and antiphospholipid syndrome are related.  However, there is no evidence that shows transmission from parent to child.
  • Medications- certain medications have been linked to antiphospholipid syndrome and should be monitored closely.

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Symptoms

What are the symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome?

As with most autoimmune diseases, symptoms vary from person to person.  The most common symptoms include: 

  • Blood clot
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye inflammation
  • Detached retina
  • Vision loss
  • Miscarriages
  • Stillbirths
  • Stroke
  • Rash
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Headaches
  • Dementia
  • Seizures
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Heart disease

What complications are associated with antiphospholipid syndrome?

A major concern associated with antiphospholipid syndrome is during pregnancy as this may cause miscarriages or stillbirths.

Diagnosis

How is antiphospholipid syndrome diagnosed?

A complete and thorough medical history and examination will be performed by a licensed healthcare provider.  If there is a history of unexplained blood clots or pregnancy losses as well as heart attacks in otherwise young healthy individuals, a closer look at antiphospholipid syndrome as a potential cause may be considered from your healthcare specialist.  Usually a blood test will be performed checking for antiphospholipid autoantibodies for this condition.  However, the antibodies must be found in two different lab tests that are more than 12 weeks apart to be confirmed.  It must also be noted that antibodies may be found in blood tests with no symptoms or history of clotting is present.

Treatment

What are treatment options for antiphospholipid syndrome?

There is no cure for antiphospholipid syndrome.  Treatment for this condition involves the use of blood thinners to prevent recurrent blood clots.  There are pill and injectable forms available as well as even over the counter options such as aspirin.  Anticoagulation treatment has also proven successful during pregnancy with no evidence of harm to the unborn child.

If you require medical advice for this autoimmune disease, we have experienced healthcare providers at TeleMed2U that are familiar with this condition that may be able to assist you further with a comprehensive treatment plan.

References

Information

Medically reviewed by:

Dr Roy Kedem, MD

Dr Roy Kedem started his premedical studies at Harvard, and research in genetics and gene sequencing at Harvard, Beth Israel. He attended medical school in the UK at the Cambridge Overseas Medical Program in 1998.  Dr Kedem then completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in Stamford, Connecticut and his fellowship in Hospital Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

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with or without insurance

With Insurance

Rheumatology

Your copay
Depending on insurance

Without Insurance

Rheumatology

$149

Initial Visit

$75

Follow Up