Antiphospholipid syndrome


Antiphospholipid syndrome, sometimes called Hughes syndrome or antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system unintentionally produces antibodies which attack bodily tissues. Blood clots may develop in arteries and veins because of these antibodies.

When a person has antiphospholipid syndrome, their immune system produces abnormal proteins in the blood called antiphospholipid antibodies. When antibodies target phospholipids, it can lead to cellular damage. Blood clots may develop in their arteries and veins as a result of this damage.

The presence of antiphospholipid antibodies is linked to an increased susceptibility to blood clots; however, the precise underlying cause remains uncertain and is likely influenced by multiple factors.

Legs, lungs, and other organs like the kidneys and spleen can develop blood clots. Heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses can result from the clots. Antiphospholipid syndrome during pregnancy can potentially lead to stillbirth, miscarriage, or preeclampsia. Although individuals may have antiphospholipid antibodies, there are cases where they do not have any signs or symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome.

While there is currently no known cure for this atypical condition, medications can reduce the likelihood of miscarriage and blood clot formation.


Antiphospholipid Syndrome signs and symptoms that can include:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): DVT symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling. Pulmonary embolism is the result of these clots traveling to the lungs.
  • Repeated miscarriages or stillbirths: Premature birth and preeclampsia are other pregnancy risks.
  • Stroke: A young person with antiphospholipid syndrome but no recognized cardiovascular disease risk factors may experience a stroke.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA): A TIA often lasts only a few minutes and has no lasting effects.
  • Rash: A lacy, net-like red rash can appear on certain persons.

The following signs and symptoms are less common:

  • Neurological symptoms: When a blood clot prevents blood flow to certain areas of the brain, convulsions, dementia, and chronic headaches, including migraines are possible.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Heart valve injury from antiphospholipid syndrome is possible.
  • Thrombocytopenia: Periods of bleeding, especially from the gums and nose, may result from this decrease in blood cells essential for clotting. The presence of patches of small red spots on the skin indicates bleeding beneath the surface.

If experiencing unexplained nose or gum bleeding, abnormally heavy menstrual periods, vomiting of bright red or coffee-ground-like material, passing black, tarry, or bright red stools, or encountering unexplained abdominal pain, contact a healthcare provider for further management.

If having signs or symptoms of stroke, pulmonary embolism, or deep vein thrombosis, it is crucial to promptly seek medical care.


Antiphospholipid syndrome is classified as an autoimmune disorder, characterized by the production of antibodies that mistakenly target phospholipid-binding proteins within the body’s cells. The precise cause of this immune system malfunction is still uncertain, but medical experts believe it may be influenced by genetic mutations and environmental factors. An underlying condition such an autoimmune disorder can contribute to antiphospholipid syndrome. The syndrome might also appear in a patient without any underlying reason.

Risk factors

Women are more likely than men to experience antiphospholipid syndrome. The disease is more likely in people who also have an autoimmune disorder like lupus.

Antibodies associated with antiphospholipid syndrome may exist without causing any signs or symptoms. However, carrying these antibodies raises a patient’s risk of blood clots, especially if they have any of the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy
  • Immobility: Patients who are temporarily immobilized, such as those who are on bed rest or who are flying for a long time
  • Undergo previous surgical procedures
  • Having high cholesterol and triglycerides level
  • Smoking habits
  • Use oral contraceptives or estrogen therapy for menopause