WHAT IS ANTIPHOSPHOLIPID SYNDROME?
Antiphospholipid is a syndrome that generally affects younger women. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system of the affected person mistakenly produces antibodies that attack the tissues of the body. These antibodies in turn cause the formation of clots in the veins as well as in the arteries.
The blood clot creates obstacles in the path of blood flow which may be life-threatening as it may result in a heart attack or stroke. This generally creates a problem for pregnant women as the growing fetus may not get a proper blood supply. The reason for this occurrence as most people who are diagnosed are symptom-less.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF ANTIPHOSPHOLIPID SYNDROME?
Antibodies are the protectors from certain bacteria and viruses. But when these antibodies, either by mistake or due to a given trigger, produce protein auto-immune autoantibodies, it causes the formation of blood clots. It can also occur due to certain environmental factors or any kind of infection with a genetic component that elevates the disease. This disease or syndrome can also occur without any underlying cause.
SYMPTOMS OF APS
· DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT) – This occurs in the veins of the legs and can cause a serious problem if not treated on time. Acute pain in the leg, swelling, and redness are the major symptoms and when it travels to the lungs it causes pulmonary embolism.
· A HEART ATTACK – The patient can also undergo a stroke or a heart attack. Generally occurs in a young person.
· PREGNANCY ISSUES – A pregnant woman can miscarry if she has the syndrome. She may even face high blood pressure and sometimes premature delivery.
· SKIN PROBLEM – In fewer patients, the problem of skin rash is seen in a net-like pattern when diagnosed.
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RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH APS SYNDROME
The antibodies are at risk of increasing the development of blood clots in the arteries or veins if
– The patient is pregnant
– Has undergone any surgery or operation
– Habitual smoker
– Has high cholesterol
– High estrogen levels
Two to three blood tests may be required. The higher positivity increases the risk of this syndrome. Studies have shown that sometimes these clotting proteins are also found in healthy people.
LINE OF TREATMENT
Since the major complication of APS is the formation of a blood clot, patients are often given blood thinners. An oral-anticoagulation therapy reduces the formation of blood clots thereby decreasing the chance of a stroke. To prevent the clot from forming again some patients are put on blood-thinning medication such as WARFARIN (COUMADIN) for a longer time. Pregnant women are treated under strict supervision and are injected with doses of blood thinner to reduce the risk. They are also asked to continue with their treatment post-pregnancy.
Patients who are on blood-thinning medications like WARFARIN (COUMADIN ) for a long time are asked to monitor their PT/INR regularly. PATIENT SELF TESTING has become one of the more common methods of performing this test. Patients can now easily have the reading within seconds with the help of PT/INR MONITOR and can have their doses adjusted accordingly.