About Antiphospholipid Syndrome–APS
I felt like the doomed heroine of a bad sci-fi flick, zapped by zeta rays from planet Krypton when, a few weeks after my stroke, I first heard my unpronounceable, incomprehensible diagnosis: ‘antiphospholipid syndrome.’ I’d never heard of APS. Nobody I knew had ever heard of APS, even most of my doctors had never heard of APS.
Excerpt from A Stroke of Bad Luck
APS is sometimes called “sticky blood” because of the increased tendency to form blood clots in the veins and arteries. Clotting can lead to serious health complications ranging from miscarriages and migraine headaches to blood clots in the legs, in the lungs, heart attacks or, in my case and many others, stroke.
Here are some important facts about APS:
- APS is a blood clotting disorder that causes the blood to clot when it shouldn’t. It causes the immune system to make antibodies to attack blood proteins called phospholipids (phos-pho-lipids).
- As a result, APS is a common cause of miscarriage, blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis), the lungs (pulmonary embolism), and stroke.
- It’s also an autoimmune disease. Like lupus and other autoimmune diseases, APS can “flare” at times, causing weakness, fatigue, achy muscles and joints, especially when we’re tired or stressed.
- APS is sometimes found in conjunction with other autoimmune diseases, particularly lupus.
- One third of strokes occurring in people under 50 are due to APS. Mine was one of those.
- Estrogen in the form of birth control pills and hormone replacement–perfectly safe for most women–can be deadly for women with APS.
- 15-20% of blood clots in large veins (deep vein thrombosis, including pulmonary embolism) are caused by APS.
- 10-25% of women with recurrent miscarriages have APS. If properly diagnosed and treated, many of them will be able to deliver healthy babies.
- APS is a major women’s health issue: 75-90% of those affected by APS are women
- APS isn’t rare. It’s estimated that one to five percent of the general population has APS. That’s about two to six million women, comparable to the number of women living with cancer.
Learn more about antiphospholipid syndrome on the APS resources page.