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Antiphospholipid Syndrome: Care Instructions

Blood clot forming


Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a condition that makes the blood clot too easily. This can lead to serious problems, such as a stroke, a heart attack, and blood clots in the legs or lungs. During pregnancy, APS can lead to miscarriage and other serious pregnancy problems.

APS is caused by antibodies. Normally, the immune system makes antibodies that attack germs like bacteria or viruses. But in APS, the immune system makes abnormal antibodies that affect how the blood clots.

APS is most often treated with blood thinners. If you're pregnant, you will need treatment. Your health will be closely watched.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • If you take a blood thinner, be sure you get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.
  • Do not take any over-the-counter drugs or natural health products without talking to your doctor first.
  • If you are pregnant, get any special care that your doctor recommends. This may include medicine that may help prevent a miscarriage.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.