Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), also called Hughes syndrome or phospholipid antibody syndrome, is a condition in which patients experience frequent incidences of blood clotting.
A blood clot is a clump that results from the hardening of blood. Blood clots may cut off the circulation of blood to other parts of the body. About one to five percent of people are thought to be affected with APS. Women are affected more frequently than men. APS most frequently affects middle-aged adults, but it may also occur in infants and the elderly.
The blood clots in patients with APS can be life threatening, as they may lead to a heart attack or stroke. Blood clots may appear in arteries or veins throughout the body in any organ system, and they appear frequently in blood vessels of the legs.
APS is an autoimmune condition. Normally, the immune system attacks foreign invaders, such as bacteria. An autoimmune condition occurs when the immune system malfunctions and begins to attack normal components of the body in addition to foreign invaders. In the case of APS, the immune system attacks proteins normally found in the blood, causing clots to form. These include a protein called cardiolipin, a protein called β2 glycoprotein I, and a protein called annexin V.
Currently, there is no known cure for APS. However, treatments exist to help manage the symptoms. If treated properly, most patients are able to live normal lives.
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