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Lupus anticoagulants

Lupus anticoagulants are antibodies against substances in the lining of cells. These substances prevent blood clotting in a test tube. They are called phospholipids.

Persons with these antibodies may have an abnormally high risk of blood clotting.

Causes

Most often lupus anticoagulants are found in persons with diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Lupus anticoagulants may also occur if:

  • You take certain medicines, such as phenothiazines, phenytoin, hydralazine, quinine, and the antibiotic amoxicillin.

You have conditions such as:

Some people have no risk factors for this condition.

Symptoms

You may not have any symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:

Exams and Tests

The following tests may be done:

Treatment

Often, you will not need treatment if you do not have symptoms or if you have never had a blood clot in the past.

Take the following steps to help prevent blood clots from forming:

  • Avoid most birth control pills or hormone treatments for menopause (women).
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
  • Get up and move around during long plane flights or other times when you have to sit or lie down for extended periods.
  • Move your ankles up and down when you can not┬ámove around.

Your doctor may prescribe blood thinning medicines (such as heparin and warfarin) to help prevent blood clots:

  • After surgery
  • After a bone fracture
  • With active cancer
  • When you need to set or lie down for long periods of time, such as during a hospital stay or recovering at home.

You may also need to take blood thinners for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery to lower your risk of blood clots.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most of the time, outcome is good with proper treatment. Some people may have blood clots that are hard to control with treatments. Symptoms may recur.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of a blood clot, such as:

  • Swelling or redness in the leg
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness and pale skin color in an arm or leg

References

Harris ED, Budd RC, Genovese MC, Firestein GS, Sargent JS, Sledge CB. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 7th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders; 2005.

Updated: 1/22/2013

Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Palm Beach Cancer Institute, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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