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What is Antiphospholipid Syndrome or APS?

Doctor talking with patient

Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a systemic autoimmune disorder in which the immune system makes antibodies (antiphospholipid antibodies or aPL) that increase the risk to form blood clots. The most commonly used tests to detect aPL are Lupus Anticoagulant test, Anticardiolipin Antibody Test, and Anti-Beta-2-Gylycoprotein-I Test. Among the various manifestations of APS, the most common clinical problems are blood clots in the veins of the legs, strokes, and miscarriages. Antiphospholipid antibodies can occur in otherwise healthy individuals or in patients with other autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Dr. Doruk Erkan, the Clinical Co-Director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care at Hospital for Special Surgery, says, Having a positive aPL test does not mean the person has APS; 30-40% of SLE patients may have aPL, but only a small percentage develop APS. For all aPL-positive patients with or without SLE, whether or not they have had a blood clot in the past, the first essential step in the management is understanding the risk of thrombosis and eliminating reversible risk factors known to increase risk of clotting. Further management of aPL-positive patients depends one the individual patient, his or her aPL-related clinical manifestations, and additional medical conditions.

For 10 tips on how to prevent blood clots in aPL- positive patients, go to https://hss.edu/conditions_blood-clots-antiphospholipid-antibody-positive-patients.asp


Topics: Rheumatology
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.