Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (commonly called antiphospholipid syndrome) is an autoimmune disease that can cause blood clots in the arteries and veins. It occurs when the immune system creates antibodies that can cause clotting by mistake.
A person may be genetically predisposed to this condition or be exposed to environmental factors that can lead to its development.
The presence of autoantibodies can cause the clots to form in the brain, which can lead to a stroke. A blood clot can also form in a leg and can cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT), but these clots can also travel to or form in the kidneys, lungs, and other vital organs.
Antiphospholipid syndrome is responsible for approximately one-third of the strokes in people under the age of 50. While no cure exists for the condition, current treatments can significantly reduce the risk of blood clots. That is why it is so important for this condition to be properly diagnosed and treated.
Symptoms and Complications of This Condition
The deep veins in the legs are the most frequent sites of thrombosis (i.e., blood clot formation), but it can happen in virtually any artery or vein in the body. Deep vein thrombosis usually affects the legs, but other sites can be affected as well – including the veins of the lungs, thereby causing a pulmonary embolism.
The decrease in blood flow can lead to kidney failure, cardiovascular problems, stroke, lung issues, and more.
For women who are pregnant, a diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome can lead to dangerously high blood pressure (preeclampsia) and premature delivery of the child. For young people with no known risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, this condition can cause a stroke at any time.
It can also cause a transient ischemic attack (TIA) – called a “mini-stroke” – which is similar to a stroke but lasts for only a few moments. A TIA usually leaves no permanent damage as a stroke would. Chronic headaches, migraines, dementia, and seizures are all possible when a clot blocks the blood flow to the brain.
Diagnosing Antiphospholipid Syndrome
If a person has had a few incidents of blood clots or loss of a pregnancy that can’t be explained by any known health conditions, a doctor can order a blood test to check for abnormal clotting and the presence of phospholipid antibodies. To confirm the diagnosis, the antibodies must appear in the blood in at least two separate tests scheduled at least four months apart.
Some people can have the syndrome and never experience any issues or exhibit any signs or symptoms. In such a case, the diagnosis is usually made only when the person is being tested for other health problems.
Treatment for Blood Clots
To help prevent clotting, the standard first line of treatment involves a combination of blood-thinning medications. Heparin is a daily injection, and Warfarin is an oral medication. Both are anticoagulants.
The downside to these medications is an increased risk of bleeding episodes. It is a fine line, and your doctor will need to monitor the condition in order to ensure the blood is capable of clotting enough to form a scab on a bleeding cut or to stop a bruise from becoming overly large.
Primary Care Doctors in Midlands, South Carolina
If you or a family member has unexplained blood clots, seek a professional evaluation. Antiphospholipid syndrome and other conditions can be managed under a doctor’s care.
Contact our team at SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation today. You can call us at (803) 749-1111 or request an appointment online now. Let us be your partner in your total health and wellness.