Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), also referred to as Hughes syndrome, is a condition of the immune system that causes “sticky blood.” The condition attacks both men and women and can cause pregnancy complications. Hughes syndrome is named for Dr. Graham Hughes a London doctor who is credited for discovering the condition. Hughes and team described the condition in 1983.
Types of the Disease
When the condition was first identified, it was thought to be a result or complication of lupus. Hughes realized that most of the patients with the clotting disorder did not have any signs and symptoms of lupus so the condition was given two titles – primary and secondary. The primary condition exists without any underlying medical condition. The secondary condition exists in response to a primary condition –such as lupus.
Some of the symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) include:
- Loss of memory
- Heart attack
- Changes in vision
- Pulmonary embolism
Pregnancy complications that may be associated with the syndrome include:
- Premature delivery
If a patient presents with symptoms of Hughes syndrome, a blood test will be ordered. The blood test will help determine if the patient has the condition.
Medications used to treat Antiphospholipid syndrome include heparin or lovenox, warfarin, coumadin and aspirin. Aspirin is given to many patients with the conditions. Heparin or Lovenox are used during pregnancy because Warfarin and Coumadin are not considered safe for use during pregnancy. Treatment must be maintained for life. The condition has no known cure. If a woman suffers more than one miscarriage as a result of the condition she may be treated with aspirin and heparin as soon as the first day of her missed menstrual cycle even if she does not test positive for pregnancy.
If the patient has secondary Antiphospholipid syndrome, treatment may include medications for the primary condition in addition to the treatment for the syndrome.
The prognosis for a patient diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome is very good as long as the pregnancy is well supervised. Anticoagulants can be taken daily to prevent improper and dangerous blood clotting. As long as patients maintain regular checkups and continue taking medications, lifespan is not altered.