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Antiphospholipid Antibody/Hughes Syndrome

A proportion of people with SLE also have APS.

Symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS)

In antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), the immune system produces abnormal antibodies that make the blood 'stickier' than normal.

This means people with APS are more likely to develop blood clots in their veins and arteries, which can cause serious or life-threatening health problems such as:

high blood pressure

deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or 'mini-stroke'

heart attacks

pulmonary embolism – a blockage in one of the blood vessels in the lungs

People with APS may also experience any of the following symptoms:

balance and mobility problems

vision problems, such as double vision

speech and memory problems

a tingling sensation or pins and needles in your arms or legs

fatigue (extreme tiredness)

repeated headaches or migraines

Pregnancy problems

Women with APS have a much higher risk of developing complications during pregnancy, particularly if it's not treated. Possible complications include:

recurrent (three or more) early miscarriages, usually during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy

one or more later miscarriages, usually after week 10 of pregnancy

premature birth, usually at or before week 34 of pregnancy, which may be caused by pre-eclampsia (where a woman develops high blood pressure during pregnancy)

Livedo reticularis

Livedo reticularis is a skin condition caused by small blood clots that develop inside the blood vessels of the skin.

It causes the skin to take on a blotchy red or blue appearance. Some people also develop ulcers (sores) and nodules (bumps). These symptoms are often more severe in cold weather.

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Superficial thrombophlebitis is inflammation of the veins just under your skin, usually in your leg. The symptoms are similar to DVT but they're not usually as severe.

The symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis include:


redness and tenderness along the affected vein

a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above (although this is less common)

The symptoms usually resolve within two to six weeks.

Page last reviewed: 09/11/2015

Next review due: 01/11/2018