June is the month that the United States sets aside as APS Awareness Month. APS stands for Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. It is also known as APLS or APL in the US or Hughes Syndrome or Sticky Blood in the United Kingdom.
APS is an autoimmune disease
in which the body recognizes certain normal components of blood and/or cell membranes as foreign substances and produces antibodies against them. Patients with these antibodies may experience blood clots, including heart attacks and strokes, and miscarriages. APS may occur in people with systemic lupus erythematosus, other autoimmune diseases, or in otherwise healthy individuals.
(from APS Foundation of America)
Symptoms: Blood clots, heart attacks, strokes in young people. Pregnancy symptoms include, miscarriages in early pregnancy, loss of baby after 13 weeks, small birth weight, placental abruption and a small placenta, and HELLP – hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), elevated liver tests and low platelets. Low platlet count, found by blood work.
Diagnosis – If you don’t have a low platlet count, it is often difficult to diagnose APS because of the many various symptoms.
Treatment – Keep weight and cholesterol levels low. Stop or don’t start smoking and try to keep active. If you have clots or deep vein thrombosis, you will most likely be put on a blood thinner. If you are attempting to become pregnant, you may take low dose aspirin.