Clotting is a necessary function for healthy blood; it prevents excess blood from being lost during injury or accident, and it can create bruising, where healing takes place. When it comes to clotting causing problems, most people are aware of conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and aneurisms, but there is another condition called Antiphospholipid Syndrome – AS –that occurs when the immune system erroneously creates antibodies required for clotting when clotting is not needed. Here’s what you need to know about Antiphospholipid Syndrome to determine if you are at risk and what symptoms to look for.
Causes of Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Your body produces antibodies to protect itself against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. However, should your immune system produce these antibodies by mistake or for no apparent reason, blood clots can occur, causing Antiphospholipid Syndrome. This syndrome often is attributed to an underlying condition, such as an autoimmune disorder or an infection, or as a result of taking certain medications. In extremely rare cases, Antiphospholipid Syndrome can develop on its own, without any triggers or warning signs.
Symptoms and Signs of Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Blood clots are the most common sign that one may have Antiphospholipid Syndrome. These erratically formed clots may result in unexpected episodes of bleeding, particularly from the nose and/or gums. One may notice purplish-blue patches of blood pools under the skin. Oftentimes these clots are tender to the touch, and may also be accompanied by redness and swelling. Increased headaches and migraines, seizures, and even dementia may occur should a clot block blood flow to the brain; the same is true with the heart, as clots caused by Antiphospholipid Syndrome have been known to damage valves when a clot forces its way through.
One can expect severe complications in the rare instance a clot should break away and travel to a vital organ such as the lungs. Likewise, clots that travel to the brain can cause a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), which is similar to a stroke except it lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent or lasting damage.
Pregnant women in particular should be aware of Antiphospholipid Syndrome, which can cause high blood pressure or preeclampsia which may trigger premature delivery and, in some cases, miscarriages and stillborn births.
Determining Risk for Antiphospholipid Syndrome
While there is no set characteristics to develop Antiphospholipid Syndrome, certain factors may put one at higher risk. As a rule, women are more susceptible to developing this condition. Those with compromised immune systems (e.g., Lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome) are at an increased risk, as are those who are HIV positive or have Lyme Disease. Certain blood pressure and anti-seizure medications are also known to increase risk of developing Antiphospholipid Syndrome as is a family history of the having.
When to Seek a Doctor
If you notice any of the above symptoms or if you are considered to be in a high-risk group, see your doctor immediately to determine whether or not you have Antiphospholipid Syndrome. Your doctor can order tests to check for abnormal levels of coagulants in your blood as well as the presence of antibodies to phospholipids. If you are found to have Antiphospholipid Syndrome, you can expect your doctor to prescribe a regimen of blood-thinning medications; depending on your age and health condition, your doctor may also recommend an aspirin regimen to help thin the blood.
Community Hospital in Ohio
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of Antiphospholipid Syndrome, consider diagnosis and treatment at Wooster Community Hospital. Located in Wayne County, Wooster Community Hospital is a full-service facility renowned for providing award-winning quality health care in specialties ranging from wound and urgent care to diagnostics, women’s health and pain management. In fact, of more than 3000 hospitals nationwide, Wooster Community Hospital is ranked in the top 2 percent on measures such as overall performance and commitment to continuous improvement. At Wooster Community Hospital, we are always expanding our facilities and adding to our services to meet the individual needs of patients, to include a Telehealth option for non-emergency medical care. Give us a call at (330) 263-8144 or check out our Website for everything we have to offer at one of our six convenient locations.