Antiphospholipid syndrome

Antiphospholipid syndrome is a disease of the immune system characterized by excessive blood clotting and some complications during pregnancy – miscarriages, sudden unexplained fetal death or premature birth and the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies such as anti-cardiolipin antibodies or lupus anticoagulant antibodies in the blood.

The disease is also known as Hughes syndrome in honor of the doctor who first described it.

It is important to note that antiphospholipid antibodies can be detected in the blood of people without the presence of a disease-causing process.

However, they are not considered to be the usual presence of blood proteins and are associated with a number of diseases such as thrombosis, miscarriage, thrombocytopenia, etc.

What are the symptoms?

Appearance of blood clots in the legs – deep vein thrombosis, where the clots can reach the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism;

• Recurrent persistent abortions or stillbirths and other pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure with fetal wear – preeclampsia;

• Stroke;

• Formation of thrombi in the arms or legs – peripheral arterial thrombosis;

Other possible clinical manifestations:

• Neurological symptoms – chronic headache, which can cause the development of migraines, dementia, seizures are also possible when a blood clot blocks blood flow to certain parts of the brain;

• Rash – some people develop a red lace-shaped rash;

• Cardiovascular diseases – damage to the heart valves is possible;

• Bleeding – in some of those affected, the number of platelets decreases. If this disease /thrombocytopenia/ develops, it is possible for the patient to develop very mild or even no symptoms.

However, if the platelet count drops too much, bleeding is very likely, especially from the nose and gums.

Rare symptoms:

• A movement disorder in which the body and limbs move uncontrollably;

• Cognitive disorders such as poor memory;

• Sudden loss of hearing;

What are the causes?

There are two main classifications of Hughes syndrome:

Primary – if the main cause of the disease is not established, for example an autoimmune disease;

Secondary – if the patient has systemic lupus erythematosus or another autoimmune disease, any infections or has taken any medications, the syndrome is secondary.

In such a case, the cause of Hughes syndrome is considered to be the underlying disease or medication.

Some factors are associated with the formation of antiphospholipid antibodies, although not necessarily with the development of the syndrome:

Infections – people with certain infections such as syphilis, HIV virus, hepatitis C and Lyme disease, among other symptoms, have an increased amount of antiphospholipid antibodies in the blood;

Drugs – taking the antihypertensive drug hydralazine, the heart rhythm regulator quinidine, the anticonvulsant phenytoin and the antibiotic amoxicycline increases the risk of antiphospholipid antibodies in the blood;

Genetic predisposition – although the disease is not considered hereditary, some studies have found that relatives of people with the syndrome are more likely to have the characteristic antibodies.

Antiphospholipid syndrome treatment

Depending on your treatment plan, you can take additional measures to protect your health.

If you are taking anticoagulants you should take extra precautions to protect yourself from injury and avoid bleeding.

It is recommended that you adhere to the following:

• Do not perform activities that could cause bruising or there is a high likelihood of injury or falling;

• Use a softer toothbrush and wax floss;

• Shave with an electric razor;

• Be careful when using knives, scissors and other sharp instruments;

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