Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune syndrome caused by antiphospholipid antibodies. These antibodies are often referred to by different terms, including anticardiolipin antibody, lupus anticoagulant, and antiphospholipid antibody. APS can be primary or secondary, and also can be referred to by the name Hughes syndrome or “sticky blood”.
Various manifestations of antiphospholipid antibody syndrome include: recurrent fetal loss; thrombocytopenia; large vessel occlusive syndromes (deep venous thromboses and pulmonary embolism); cardiac disease, skin manifestations (livedo reticularis, digital ischemia, cutaneous necrosis); ocular disease (visual disturbances, episcleritis (inflammation of the sclera) and keratitis (inflammation of the cornea); central nervous system syndromes as cerebral ischemia, stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or venous thrombosis) and other cns presentations including dementia, migraine and seizure; Disorders of mentation (forgetfulness and confusion). A patient with these varied neurologic symptoms may be misdiagnosed wit multiple sclerosis.
There is a strong familial association which has been demonstrated. APS is of utmost importance to the clinician interested in women’s health issues. The disease occurs more frequently in women, plays a major role in fetal loss, and is associated with numerous serious and predominantly female disease states.