Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APAS) also known as Hughes syndrome or sticky blood in the UK is a complex disorder that is very unique to every individual affected by it.
Many misconceptions surround this disease; some associate it with AIDS, hepatitis, malaria or sexually transmitted diseases. Although people affected by these conditions may indeed have APAS it is wrong to conclude that all people with APAS have these diseases as well.
At a glance, APAS is an autoimmune disorder that when the body recognizes certain foreign objects in the bloodstream or the cell components, the immune system releases these antibodies to get rid of them.
APAS is also characterized by excessive blood clotting that affects both healthy people and people who have primary illnesses.
The cause of APAS is unknown, but most autoimmune disorders are genetically linked. Manifestations of APAS vary for each individual some may present clotting disorders creating several blood clots, repeated abortions, arterial blocks and phlebitis.
Recently however, studies showed more illnesses to be linked to it like: systemic lupus erythematosus, heart attack, severe migraine headaches, various heart diseases and visual disorders that can lead to blindness.
APAS in the past was not considered as a women’s health issue not until studies showed that more women are affected by it by as much as 75 to 90% of the total number affected by it. It has also been associated to 25% of cases of frequent miscarriages among pregnant women.
A simple blood test for VDRL or RPR (syphilis test but does not mean the patient has it when a positive result is shown), lupus anticoagulant, prolonged PTT, and cardiolipin antibody may detect the lipid antibodies.
Since clinical manifestations differ per individual, treatment is directed towards management of the symptoms. In most cases however, inclusion of blood thinners to prevent blood clots is often given like warfarin and heparin.
APAS if left untreated can lead to a fatal but rare complication called catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome. From the name alone it means danger, characterized by several blockages of major organs due to excessive blood clots.
This may affect organs like the skin, lungs, heart, kidneys and the digestive system. That is why if you know you have this condition regular visit to your health provider should not be missed.