When normal proteins in the blood are mistakenly attacked by the immune system of the blood, it is known as antiphospholipid syndrome. This syndrome is also referred to as Hughes Syndrome and it can result in the formation of blood clots inside the veins and the arteries. This syndrome might also be a cause for the formation of blood clots in the leg veins, which is also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Not just the legs, but in this syndrome, blood clots might also be seen in the organs like lungs and kidneys. The location and extent of the syndrome determines the damage level in case of men. A clot in the brain of an individual can cause a stroke, which is the reason why this syndrome is dangerous.

Antiphospholipid Syndrome

Though, there is no certain cures available for antiphospholipid syndrome, medications help one in reducing the risk of having more blood clots.

There are mainly two types of antiphospholipid syndrome. They are:

  • Primary antiphospholipid syndrome: This condition is not linked with any other disease and develops in isolation.
  • Secondary antiphospholipid syndrome: This condition is seen along with other autoimmune disorders like lupus.

Causes

Antibodies normally attack viruses and bacteria. In case of antiphospholipid syndrome, the body produces antibodies against the proteins that help in binding phospholipids, a certain type of fat that helps in clotting (coagulation). Factors that help in developing antiphospholipid syndrome are:

  • Infections: They include HIV infection, Lyme disease, syphilis etc.
  • Medications: Hydralazine (for high blood pressure), quinidine (for heart rhythm-regulation) are examples of medications that can be associated with developing antiphospholipid syndrome.
  • Genetic predispositions: Research had linked heredity with antiphospholipid syndrome.

Symptoms

The symptoms that are associated with antiphospholipid syndrome include:

  • Formation of blood clots in the legs and arms (peripheral arterial thrombosis)
  • Stroke
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in the legs
  • Rashes
  • Bleeding
  • Neurological symptoms like migraines and dementia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive problems
  • Movement disorders that causes the limbs to jerk uncontrollably

Risk Factors

The risk factors that may predispose antiphospholipid syndrome are:

  • Having someone in family with antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Having infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Lyme disease, syphilis etc.
  • Having any autoimmune condition like Sjogren’s Syndrome.
  • Having any surgery
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Having high cholesterol level

The risk factors as seen are more of in sync with men and hence they are at a higher risk in this syndrome

Diagnosis

For diagnosing antiphospholipid syndrome, blood tests are conducted by the doctor to check abnormal clotting and existence of antibodies to phospholipid-binding proteins. Blood tests are also employed for checking three other antibodies in the blood which include:

  • Anti-cardiolipin
  • Beta-2 glycoprotein I
  • Lupus anticoagulant

Treatment

Though there is no cure available as such for preventing the serious complications associated with antiphospholipid syndrome, doctors do provide some medications for reducing blood’s tendency to clot. The anticoagulant medications used are:

  • Warfarin
  • Heparin
  • Aspirin

There are several new experimental treatments that have emerged for treating antiphospholipid syndrome. These are:

  • New blood thinners (anticoagulants): rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban (Eliquis) and dabigatran (Pradaxa) are oral blood thinners for treating antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Statins: they can help in lessening the risk of forming blood clots and cardiovascular diseases associated with antiphospholipid syndrome.
  • Rituximab (Rituxan): this drug has been used for treating conditions that affect the immune system. It can be used for treating antiphospholipid syndrome, though there isn’t much evidence supporting it.