Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS)

Definition - What does Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS) mean?

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. APS can complicate conception, pregnancy, and childbirth.

The condition cannot be cured, however some complications may be treated with medication.

FertilitySmarts explains Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS)

The immune system is intended to recognize and defeat foreign bacteria, infections, or illness. It does so by creating something called antibodies, protein cells that fight off invading cells. Antibodies are essential to maintaining health. However, when someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, it means that his or her body has created antibodies that inaccurately recognize the body’s own naturally occurring cells as dangerous invaders. The antibodies attack healthy cells, which causes illness. Individuals with APS have antibodies that attack fat cells, called phospholipids. Phospholipids are an important part of every cell in the body. When attacked by antibodies the healthy cells become damaged. The damage can cause build up, called blood clots.

There is no definitive cause of APS, however, there are several factors that increase risk:

  • Infections, including HIV, Lyme disease, or hepatitis C
  • The use of certain medication
  • Family history of APS
  • Having an autoimmune disease

Pregnant women with APS can suffer from significant complications of the condition, including:

  • Miscarriage
  • Recurrent pregnancy loss
  • Premature birth
  • Stillbirth

Other symptoms include:

  • Blood clots in the legs called deep vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism, blood clots in the lungs
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Cardiovascular problems

Blood tests can confirm a diagnosis of APS. However, as APS’s symptoms arise as health complications, it is likely that APS remains undetected until a health complication is present. APS is often discovered after unexplained miscarriages or loss of pregnancy.

There is no cure for APS however the complications can be controlled with medication. Blood thinner medication, called anticoagulants, are the standard procedure for treating APS.

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