Early diagnosis saves lives
Currently APS cannot be cured; instead there are two possible approaches to treatment: either to suppress or remove the antibodies which cause the problem, or to make the blood less sticky by thinning it.
As treatment to suppress or remove the antibodies is presently only in the developmental stage, the current treatment is aimed at preventing clotting by ‘thinning’ the blood with anticoagulation (literally anti-clotting) therapy.
In general anticoagulants fall into two categories: those that come in tablet form and those that have to be injected into the skin. The most commonly used drugs are aspirin, heparin and warfarin, but there are also other drugs that can help alleviate symptoms.
The future of anticoagulation treatment is a major focus of research with new anticoagulation drugs being trialled to supplant warfarin; in particular, rivaroxaban is proving to be successful for many patients with venous clots such as DVTs or PEs.
As mentioned earlier, the other approach to treatment is to block the antibodies and suppress the harmful antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL). This therapy is also being researched but, until the exact causes of APS and mechanics of the effect of aPL on cells are known, this area of treatment remains at the developmental stage.
At present, there are three main established anticoagulation medicines: aspirin, heparin and warfarin, and one alternative to aspirin called clopidogrel.
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