Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the circulatory system. This disorder affects the phospholipid binding protein in blood known as the b (2)-glycoprotein. The problems associated with this condition can become fatal if left untreated.
Some cardiac and vascular conditions may predispose to antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and can result in the formation of thrombus (blood clot) in the blood vessels. Thrombosis can be life threatening. If it occurs in a pregnant woman, it may lead to miscarriage. Some patients with this condition also have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
The main cause of this condition is the exposure to some infections such as CMV (human herpesvirus-5), Hepatitis C and VZV(chicken pox). The organisms which cause these diseases contain peptides which resemble plasma. So, when these diseases affect the body, the antibodies accidentally destroy the plasma proteins also.
The antiphospholipid antibody syndrome occurs only on continuous exposure to the infections. It has been proven that some medications and trauma can also lead to the disease. Genetic factors may also contribute to the condition.
Relation between APS and Vascular Diseases
The formation of thrombus known as thrombosis is the main effect of APS on the circulatory system. Thrombus can block the blood vessels resulting in deep vein thrombosis and stroke. In such cases, anticoagulants are given to prevent clotting of blood inside the blood vessels.
Relation between APS and Cardiac Diseases
APS can cause diseases of valves in the heart such as thickening of the walls of the valves. This results in impaired blood circulation to other parts of the body. APS may also become a predisposing factor in myocardial infarctions or heart attack. Patients with APS also need careful observation after coronary artery bypass surgery. Your doctor may prescribe warfarin, corticosteroids and other anti inflammatory drugs to alleviate the symptoms.
Relation between APS and Pregnancy
Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome can cause miscarriage in pregnant women. It will also result in impaired growth of the fetus, premature delivery of the baby, and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia can be fatal to both mother and baby.
The nutrients required for the growth of the fetus is supplied by blood. If this blood supply is disturbed in any way, it will not get enough nutrients for its growth resulting in impaired development of the fetus. In such cases, heparin or aspirin may be prescribed by your doctor.
Blood examination is the best method used for the diagnosis of APS. In the examination, the levels of IgG antibodies are evaluated. The confirmation of the condition will need at least 2 blood examinations taken at 2 different times. The second test can be performed 12 weeks after the first test.