Antiphospholipid syndrome

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Antiphospholipid syndrome is a disorder that manifests clinically as recurrence of arterial and venous thrombosis and / or fetal loss.

The characteristic abnormalities of this syndrome, demonstrated in laboratory, include consistently high levels of antibodies that direct their action against phospholipids with anionic membrane or on the associated plasma proteins (predominantly beta-2 glycoprotein or the highlighting of circulating anticoagulant).


1. Overview
2. General manifestations
3. Causes
4. Symptoms
5. Treatment

General manifestations

It is important to note that antiphospholipid antibodies can be found in the blood of people who do not manifest disease. Phospholipid antibodies are present in 2% of healthy people.

Harmless antiphospholipid antibodies can be detected in blood for a short period of time, occasionally in combination with a wide variety of conditions, including bacterial and viral infections (hepatitis, HIV) and parasitic (malaria).

Some drugs can cause antiphospholipid antibodies to be produced in the blood (antibiotics, cocaine, procainamide, quinine).


There are two main causes of antiphospholipid syndrome
a. Primary – if you suffer from autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, you have primary antiphospholipid syndrome
b. Secondary – if you are diagnosed with lupus or other autoimmune disorder antiphospholipid syndrome is secondary.

In the secondary antiphospholipid syndrome’s case, the cause is thought to be lupus or other autoimmune disorders. The cause of the primary antiphospholipid syndrome is unknown. However there are factors associated with the development of antiphospholipid antibodies which include

- Infections – people with syphilis, HIV, hepatitis C or malaria, among other possibilities are more likely to have antiphospholipid antibodies.

- Drugs – use of certain drugs such as hydralazine to treat hypertension, to regulate the heart rhythm quinidine, phenytoin – anticonvulsant drug and amoxicillin can increases the risk of antiphospholipid antibodies.

- Genetic predisposition – though not considered a hereditary disorder, research indicates that relatives of people with antiphospholipid syndrome are more likely to have antiphospholipid antibodies.


Signs and symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome include:

- Blood clots in legs level that can reach up to the lungs
- Repeated miscarriages and other pregnancy complications such as premature birth or high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia)
- Stroke.

Other less common manifestations include:

- Neurological symptoms – pain, chronic headaches, including migraines, seizures and dementia are possible when a blood clot blocks blood flow in certain parts of the brain
- Rash
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Bleeding.


The main goal of treatment is to thin the blood clotting to minimize its risk. Currently, the recommended treatment includes low doses of aspirin. For people who have had stroke or have experienced recurrent blood clots, doctors recommend treatment with warfarin.

Pregnant women are treated with either aspirin or other anticoagulant (heparin), because warfarin can cause birth defects.



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