There is no known cure for antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). However, treatments exist that may help patients manage some of the symptoms. If treated properly, most patients remain healthy and can live normal lives.
Anticoagulants: The main treatment for APS is anticoagulant therapy. An anticoagulant is a medication that slows down the body's ability to make blood clots. Warfarin, aspirin, and heparin are commonly used anticoagulants in the treatment of APS. It is often recommended that patients with APS take anticoagulants indefinitely, as continued use of anticoagulants may reduce or prevent clots from forming in the future. Patients should consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine the best treatment option.
A side effect for patients taking anticoagulants is that injuries such as cuts may bleed longer and could be more serious, because the blood clots more slowly.
Lifestyle: It is recommended that patients with APS make healthy lifestyle choices, including exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. Making healthy lifestyle choices may reduce a patient's risk of developing clots.
: There is evidence that several integrative therapies, such as policosanol, aortic acid, garlic, ginger, Pycnogenol®, rutin, seaweed, kelp, and bladderwrack, may reduce the formation of blood clots or the aggregation of platelets. While the use of these therapies to treat antiphospholipid syndrome has not been well studied, these therapies may potentially be effective in treating the disease, based on the symptoms that the patients exhibit.
The integrative therapies listed below should be used only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider, and should not be used in replacement of other proven therapies or preventive measures.
Strong scientific evidence
Policosanol: Policosanol is a natural product made from the waxy coating of sugar cane that helps lower cholesterol. Various studies have investigated the effect of policosanol on platelet aggregation. In general, studies suggest that policosanol inhibits platelet aggregation caused by collagen and arachidonic acid.
Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to policosanol. Use cautiously with nitrates, aspirin, or drugs that lower cholesterol or blood pressure. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence
Aortic acid: Aortic extract is usually made from the hearts of animals, usually sheep, cows, or pigs. There are many substances in this extract, including aortic acid, which is a broad term encompassing several constituents. Mesoglycan is the most studied of these constituents. Further research is needed to determine whether or not aortic acid may help treat patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Reports of allergic reactions with use of aortic acid are currently unavailable. Due to the heparin sulfate content of mesoglycan, patients with an allergy to heparin or heparinoid derivatives should use aortic acid cautiously. Use cautiously with coagulation disorders or if taking anticoagulation therapy. Use cautiously with high blood pressure or if taking drugs that lower blood pressure. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Garlic: The garlic bulb is made of many garlic cloves that are wrapped in a paper-thin, white skin. Garlic, which is often used as a spice in food, has also been used to treat many medical conditions. Garlic has been studied in humans as a possible anticoagulant therapy. Because garlic has been associated with several cases of bleeding, therapy should be used cautiously, especially in patients who are taking other medications, herbs, or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding.
Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to garlic or other members of the Lilaceae(lily) family (e.g. hyacinth, tulip, onion, leek, or chive). Avoid with a history of bleeding problems, asthma, diabetes, low blood pressure, or thyroid disorders. Stop using supplemental garlic two weeks before and immediately after dental/surgical/diagnostic procedures to avoid bleeding problems. Avoid supplemental doses if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ginger: The underground stems (rhizomes) and above ground stems of ginger have been used in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian medicine for hundreds of years. One study suggests that ginger may increase the effects of the anti-platelet medication nifedipine in patients who have high blood pressure. Further research is necessary to determine if ginger might be used as an anticoagulant therapy.
Avoid if allergic to ginger or other members of the Zingiberaceaefamily, including red ginger, Alpinia purpurata, shell ginger, Alpinia zeru, green cardamom, or Balsam of Peru. Use cautiously if driving or operating machinery because ginger may cause drowsiness. Stop two weeks before and immediately after surgery/dental/diagnostic procedures due to risk of bleeding. Avoid with a history of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Use cautiously with a history of ulcers, acid reflux, heart conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, blocked intestines, or bleeding disorders. Use cautiously if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Pycnogenol: Pycnogenol® is the patented trade name for a water extract of the bark of the French maritime pine tree (Pinus pinaster ssp. atlantica), which is grown in coastal southwestern France. Pycnogenol® contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), as well as several other bioflavonoids: catechin, epicatechin, phenolic fruit acids (such as ferulic acid and caffeic acid), and taxifolin. According to the results of one human study, Pycnogenol® may reduce platelet aggregation in smokers. However, further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Pycnogenol® treatment may effectively decrease the number of thrombotic events (deep vein thrombosis and superficial vein thrombosis) in moderate- to high-risk subjects, during long-haul flights. Edema (swelling) may also be reduced. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to Pycnogenol®, its components, or members of the Pinaceae family. Use cautiously with diabetes, hypoglycemia, bleeding disorders. Use cautiously if taking hypolipidemic agents (drugs that lower cholesterol), medications that may increase the risk of bleeding, hypertensive medications, or immune stimulating or inhibiting drugs. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Rutin: Rutin is a yellow crystalline flavonol glycoside that occurs in various plants, especially the buckwheat plant, black tea, apple peels, onions, and citrus. Superficial vein thrombosis (SVT) is a common complication of varicose veins. One clinical trial suggests that a rutin-containing drug called Venoruton®, in combination with elastic compression or thrombectomy, offers benefit as compared to these treatments alone. Additional study is needed in this area.
Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to O-(beta-hydroxyethyl)-rutosides or plants that rutin is commonly found in, such as rue, tobacco, or buckwheat. Use cautiously in elderly patients. Use cautiously with skin conditions. Use cautiously if taking medications for edema, diuretics, or anticoagulation medications (e.g. heparin or warfarin). Use cautiously if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Seaweed, kelp, bladderwrack: Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) is a brown seaweed found along the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and North and Baltic seas. Another seaweed that grows alongside bladderwrack is Ascophyllum nodosum, andit is often combined with bladderwrack in kelp preparations. Laboratory study has found anticoagulant properties in fucans or fucoidans, which are components of brown algae such as bladderwrack. However, high quality human studies are currently unavailable to support this use.
Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to Fucus vesiculosus or iodine. Avoid with a history of thyroid disease, bleeding, acne, kidney disease, blood clots, nerve disorders, high blood pressure, stroke, or diabetes. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
There are currently no known ways to prevent antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). Some treatments, such as anticoagulant therapy and lifestyle modifications, are available for patients.