Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Antiphospholipid Syndrome Might Raise Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke!

Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a medical disorder that causes blood clot in arteries and veins (thrombosis). It is also blamed for causing certain pregnancy-related complications like preterm delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth or severe preeclampsia.

The syndrome, also known as Hughes syndrome after the rheumatologist Dr. Graham R.V. Hughes, is a result of immunity system flaw. It occurs because of the autoimmune production of antibodies against phospholipid, a cell membrane substance.

Dutch researchers from at the University Medical Centre, Utrecht reported on September 28, 2009 in The Lancet Neurology journal that women under 50 having APS are 43 times riskier of getting stroke and 5 times likelier to have heart attack than a general population.

The study is believed to be the first to probe the impact of APS in terms of heart attack and stroke. Data from 1,006 women aged between 18 and 49 was analyzed. These women took part in a different study, known as RATIO, between 1990 and 2001. Among the participants, 175 had had a stroke, 203 had had a heart attack and 628 were healthy women.

Samples of blood were taken from these women to test for antiphospholipid antibodies known as lupus anticoagulant (LA), and a questionnaire about their lifestyle was given for response.

The blood test results indicated that LA was found in 17 percent (30 women) of those who had had a stroke, 3 percent (6 women) of those who had had a heart attack and 0.4 percent (4 women) of those who were healthy.

According to the researchers, the frequency of such disorder is considered low. This can be seen from the fact that only between 1.2 and 3.8 percent of the public has LA while there was a prevalence of only 0.6 percent was found in the study.

However, the researchers warned that these so-called auto-antibodies could account for an inordinate number of hospitalizations, especially when other risk factors like smoking and contraceptive pills are taken into account.

It was found that patients with LA and smoking increased the risk of heart attack by 34 folds and those with LA and oral contraceptives increased the likelihood by 22 folds.

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