Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by frequent clotting in arteries and veins. Clotting is caused by anti-phospholipid autoantibodies which attack normal proteins in the blood. Clotting may lead to pregnancy complications and heart attacks.
These antibodies may also cause clotting in leg veins called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Damage caused by clot depends on the size and location of the clot. Repeated formation of clots may lead to organ damage.
The main causes of Antiphospholipid syndrome are abnormal antibodies called autoantibodies.
In this autoimmune disease, the body produces antibodies against normal organs and tissues of the body. These abnormal antibodies are called autoantibodies. Autoantibodies produced in APS recognizes proteins that bind to phospholipids. Autoantibodies increase the risk of blood clots. APS is categorized into two main types:
Clinical symptoms and blood tests are the basis for the diagnosis of Antiphospholipid syndrome. Blood test are used to check for the presence of autoantibodies.
Anticardiolipin antibodies, Lupus anticoagulant, and antibodies to β2-glycoprotein are the antibodies checked in blood tests. Presence of these antibodies at least twice in blood tests conducted once in 12 weeks confirms APS.
Medications that reduce clot formation are used to treat Antiphospholipid syndrome. Anticoagulant medications given to control the symptoms are heparin, warfarin, and aspirin. Combination of these drugs is the first step in the treatment of APS.
During pregnancy, heparin and aspirin are given as a part of anticoagulation therapy to prevent miscarriage. Adding aspirin to heparin during pregnancy increases the chance of successful pregnancy. Dosage of the medication is based on blood tests so that body still retain the clotting ability when bleeding starts.
Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with Antiphospholipid syndrome.
Those who are on anticoagulants should avoid risky and high contact sports to avoid bruising and bleeding. Gum bleeding can be prevented by using soft brushes and waxed flosses. Shaving with electric razor reduces risk of bleeding.
Certain foods are known to influence the effect of anticoagulants. Foods with vitamin K reduces the effect, while cranberry and alcohol increase the blood-thinning effect of the medication. Medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins should be had only after discussion with the doctor to avoid interactions.
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