Early diagnosis saves lives
At present, there are three main established anticoagulation medicines used to treat APS: aspirin, heparin and warfarin, one alternative to aspirin called clopidogrel and new direct oral anticoagulants, namely rivaroxaban.
Low dose aspirin 75-150mg daily is usually the first choice of treatment for APS patients who have not had a thrombosis or stroke, and is widely used in pregnancy. It can often help alleviate some of the milder symptoms such as frequent headaches and dizziness.
There are some patients who cannot tolerate aspirin, particular those with digestive problems and asthmatics. A very useful alternative with similar anti-platelet effects is clopidogrel, which used to have the trade name of Plavix in the UK.
Heparin is used as a ‘first line’ treatment for thrombosis in hospitals, and is commonly given to women with obstetric who have suffered previous miscarriages. Daily heparin injections are taken in conjunction with aspirin throughout their pregnancies. It is also sometimes useful in APS patients to alleviate sudden, severe symptoms.
Warfarin is taken in tablet form and is an agent that thins the blood and, for most APS patients who have had a thrombosis or stroke, it is currently the treatment of choice. However, it cannot be used in pregnancy as it is potentially dangerous to the unborn baby.
The new direct oral anticoagulant, rivaroxaban, was approved for some APS patient in August 2016 following a multi-centre trial. The London-based Rivaroxoaban in APS (RAPS) study found that rivaroxaban could be an effective, safe and convenient alternative to warfarin in some patients with antiphospholipid syndrome.
See a list of non anticoagulant drugs that are successful in the treatment of APS symptoms including steriods, hydroxychloroquine, intravenous immunoglobulin, immunosuppressives, vitamin D.
View our guide to find out what your INR is and how you can manage it to help control your condition.
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