- The abnormal blood clotting tendency involved in antibody phospholipid syndrome can adversely affect nearly any part of the body. Clots can form in the legs (deep vein thrombosis), or in organs, including kidneys and lungs, leading to serious and sometimes life-threatening health problems. A blood clot in the brain can cause a stroke, and a clot in a coronary artery can cause a heart attack.
- A person may not be diagnosed with antibody phospholipid syndrome until she experiences a severe complication from a blood clot. Another sign of the disorder is chronic headaches, including migraines, as a blood clot may block blood flow to parts of the brain. Dizziness, confusion, vision disorders, balance problems and seizures are other possible effects. Some individuals develop a red or bluish rash with a lacy pattern on the wrists and knees.
- Pregnancy problems also are a signal of antibody phospholipid syndrome. Women with this syndrome have a tendency to multiple miscarriages, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia and premature delivery and stillbirths. Some of these effects may be caused by blood clots developing in the placenta and preventing the fetus from obtaining nutrition. Additionally, infertility has been linked to antiphospholipid antibodies, and some fertility clinics routinely test for these antibodies.
- Antiphospholipid syndrome is most common in young and middle-aged women. The condition frequently occurs in conjunction with the autoimmune disorder lupus, and also may occur with other autoimmune disorders. It also is associated with certain diseases, such as hepatitis C and syphilis. According to the Mayo Clinic, about one in three patients with antiphospholipid syndrome has heart valve abnormalities. Additionally, close relatives of people with the syndrome are at higher risk.
- Treatment usually involves preventing clotting by taking anticoagulants. Aspirin can help some patients, although more potent drugs commonly are necessary. A physician may start the patient on heparin (Hep-Lock) and then change to warfarin (Coumadin) once the condition is under control. Some people may require corticosteroids or immune system suppressant medications. Anticoagulation therapy during pregnancy can be complicated because some of these drugs cause birth defects, but treatment usually prevents miscarriages associated with this syndrome.