Everyone knows the dangers of blood clots that can occur in the legs, lungs, kidneys and worst, the brain. Antiphospholipid Syndrome – AS – is a condition that occurs when the immune system erroneously creates the antibodies for clotting when clotting is not needed. While there is no cure for the condition, there are medications that can greatly reduce the risk and chances of developing further blood clots.
Causes of Antiphospholipid Syndrome
When the autoimmune system experiences a malfunction caused by Antiphospholipid Syndrome, the antibodies usually reserved for clotting a wound as protection instead produce and manifest blood clots for no reason. Antiphospholipid Syndrome can develop due to an underlying condition such as an autoimmune disorder, an infection, or as a result of taking certain medications; in some rare cases, Antiphospholipid Syndrome can develop on its own without any trigger or warnings.
Effects of Antiphospholipid Syndrome
The most common effect of Antiphospholipid Syndrome is development of a blood clot. Because our cells act erratically regarding clots, those who have Antiphospholipid Syndrome may have episodes of bleeding, particularly with the nose and gums, as well as purplish-blue patches of blood under the skin. The blood clot may be accompanied by pain, swelling and redness. On occasion, the blood clots can break away, traveling through the body where it can cause severe complications such as a pulmonary embolism should the clot reach a lung. Clots that travel to the brain can cause stroke; a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is similar to a stroke except it lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent or lasting damage.
Other effects of Antiphospholipid Syndrome include an increased frequency of headaches and migraines, seizures, and even dementia when a clot blocks blood flow to a portion of the brain. Antiphospholipid Syndrome also has been known to damage heart valves when a clot forces its way through.
During pregnancy, Antiphospholipid Syndrome can result in extremely high blood pressure or preeclampsia, both of which can trigger premature delivery. Antiphospholipid Syndrome has been found to be responsible for miscarriages and stillborn births.
Diagnosing Antiphospholipid Syndrome
If you develop a blood clot or notice symptoms of Antiphospholipid Syndrome, your doctor can order tests to check for abnormal levels of coagulants in the blood and the presence of antibodies to phospholipids. Verifying a diagnosis of Antiphospholipid Syndrome requires two separate blood tests taken at least four months apart that both conclusively show the presence of the antibodies to phospholipids. The actual clinical diagnosis is made only if symptoms appear; the presence of the antibodies alone does not constitute a clinical diagnosis for antiphospholipid syndrome.
Treating Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Standard treatment of Antiphospholipid Syndrome consists of a regimen of blood-thinning medications. Heparan is delivered via injections and acts much faster than oral versions of medicines like another medication, Warfarin. An aspirin regimen may be recommended to help thin the blood. There are possible complications from blood-thinning medications like bleeding from just a bump against the skin, especially in older patients whose skin may already be extremely thin.
Finding a healthcare provider that offers a wide variety of services is the easiest way to ensure quality healthcare without the hassle. Lynx Healthcare is a large multidisciplinary group of independent physicians based in Washington, Oregon, and New Mexico who share management services and professional knowledge; this leads to increased patient satisfaction and improved outcomes. If you are seeking world-class healthcare, find a Lynx provider today by calling our main number (509) 591-0070 or requesting an appointment online.