Tag Archive | antiphosphlipid syndrome

The bleeding won’t stop!

Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura. Say what? Forget that it’s difficult to pronounce; what the heck does it mean? You’ve heard of red cells and white cells in the blood. There is another kind of cell; that cell is the platelet.

Technically speaking, platelets aren’t cells because they lack DNA. (To be considered ‘real’ cells, ‘cells’ need a nucleus with DNA). Platelets lack DNA, so technically they are not cells). But they, platelets (thrombocytes) cause the blood to clot.

People who have lupus can have low numbers of platelets for several reasons. In lupus and in all autoimmune diseases, cells of the immune system attack other cells. When platelets are attacked and killed, their numbers are decreased resulting in thrombocytopenia (low platelets in the blood); blood may or may not clot. That is one of the many reasons they check your platelet count before surgery. Can you see the headlines now? ‘The operation was a success, but the patient bled to death!’ It has happened.

Another reason that people with lupus might have low platelets is APS or antiphospholipid syndrome; another clotting disorder, often caused by lupus which increases the likelihood of blood-clotting. How could this be so? An increased likelihood of clotting at the same time there is a decreased likelihood? Platelets are so busy causing blood to clot in in all parts of the body, that in some areas, there are not adequate numbers of them to cause blood to clot. So much for the thrombocyte (thrombocytic) part. So much for the thrombocytic part and on to the idiopathic part!

‘Idiopathic’ simply means docs don’t know what causes something to happen. 

Purpura is a simple reference to what can happen when blood fails to clot. Blood may pool close to the skin surface, eventually clot and there is a resulting purplish discoloration; purpura or in it’s very technical term: bruising!

There you have it, ITP or Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura, sometimes not hazardous, but it can be serious and depending upon the severity, ITP may or may not be treated,. If it is treated, Plaquenil,™ steroids, Benlysta,™ CellCept™ or mycophenolate are among many meds of choice Other treatments can be Rituxan™ or in more severe cases, the surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy). New treatments are in clinical trials, now.





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The Long Journey of Lupus

Long Journey for People with Lupus

“An estimated 1.5 million Americans have a form of lupus, a chronic, severe autoimmune disease for which there is no cure. Every day these patients must deal with their own immune systems turning against their bodies, resulting in health effects including heart attacks, strokes, seizures, organ failure, and miscarriages.”  Lupus Foundation of America

Yet, while many people feel the impact of lupus, greater awareness of the disease a must. Many people have symptoms that could easily be explained by another illness, fatigue (not enough sleep), dry mouth (that new medication that you started or not drinking enough water), stress headaches (wouldn’t you be stressed if you were tired all the time and had a dry mouth and because of the dry mouth, watched your dental bills rise?).

.Some doctors, not thinking of the heartache this can cause, will refer you to a psychiatrist for treatment of hysteria, mental illness or PMS. All the while, you’re not a hysterical female; but I’m sure you’ve seen more than one doctor’s eyes roll back!

Many people who have lupus aren’t aware that they have a potentially disabling and life-threatening disease and because oftentimes, their symptoms ‘come and go,’ they tend to minimize and categorized lupus as a minor inconvenience.

That is, until they need to face some of lupus’ more devastating consequences, such as lung or heart problems, blood clots or stroke, severe joint problems, blood clotting disorders or kidney failure for which they need dialysis.

It is precisely because lupus can BE life-threatening, can kill, and present with such a list of vague symptoms that awareness must be raised. Awareness so more research dollars ‘go’ towards finding the cause and cure for lupus and advocating for lupus patients.

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Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS)

Your doctor just told you that you have anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS). Even though he explained APS thoroughly, on the drive home you wonder: what did he really say? Well, breaking the diagnosis down into its component words helps make APS easier to understand. I think it’s easier to explain it if it’s broken down to it’s other name: antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.

Start with the word, antibody. Antibodies are immune system proteins that fight off foreign invaders. In autoimmune disorders, these antibodies mistakenly see the body as foreign and attack it; they’re called autoantibodies: antibodies against ‘oneself.’ In APS, these autoantibodies attack phospholipid, a type of fat molecule, that makes up a large portion of cell walls, damaging cell walls and blood vessels. Antiphospholipid antibodies are no more than autoantibodies that target and attack phospholipids.

The two major antiphospholipid antibodies are the lupus anticoagulant antibody and anti-cardiolipin antibody.

About 50% of the people with these antibodies have lupus or another autoimmune disorders, but about 50% of the population without lupus can develop antiphospholipid syndrome.

What can these autoantibodies do, then? They can cause blood clots, which can then cause  osteonecrosis, gangrene, stroke, heart attack high-risk pregnancies; so this disorder is something not to be taken lightly.

How is it a APS treated? If someone has lupus anticoagulant antibody, but have never had a blood clot, reatment is usually with aspirin. However,  if there has been a blood clot, the main treatment is blood thinning, or anticoagulation; and that’s usually done with Coumadin or its generic equivalent, warfarin.



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