SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Signs and symptoms of antiphospholipid syndrome may include:
- Blood clots in your legs (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) that may travel to your lungs (pulmonary embolism)
- Repeated miscarriages or stillbirths and other complications of pregnancy, such as premature delivery and high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia)
Other less common signs and symptoms include:
- Neurological symptoms. Chronic headaches, including migraines, dementia and seizures are possible when a blood clot blocks blood flow to parts of your brain.
- Rash. Some people develop a red rash with a lacy, net-like pattern (livedo reticularis) on their wrists and knees.
- Cardiovascular disease. Heart valve problems are common among people with antiphospholipid syndrome. Heart valves open and close to keep blood flowing through your heart's four chambers in only one direction. Typically, the mitral valve — the valve between your heart's upper left and lower left chambers — develops masses or thickens, which can cause blood to leak backward through it (regurgitation). The aortic valve — the valve between your heart's lower left chamber and aorta — also may be affected.
- Bleeding. Some people experience a decrease in platelets, blood cells necessary for normal clotting. If you have this condition (thrombocytopenia), you may have few or no symptoms. However, if your platelet count drops too low, you may have episodes of bleeding, particularly from your nose and gums. You can also bleed into your skin, which will appear as patches of small, red spots (petechiae).
Infrequent signs and symptoms include:
- Movement disorder, in which your body and limbs jerk uncontrollably (chorea)
- Cognitive problems, such as poor memory
- Sudden hearing loss
- Mental health problems, such as depression or psychosis
When to see a doctor
If you already have an autoimmune condition, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested for antiphospholipid antibodies.
Other reasons to contact your doctor include:
- Pain or swelling in your leg or arm. See your doctor especially if your vein is red, swollen or tender. Seek emergency care if vein swelling and pain are severe or are accompanied by a high fever or shortness of breath, which could indicate DVT and an increased chance of a blood clot traveling to your lungs (pulmonary embolism).
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding during the first 20 weeks of your pregnancy. This may be a sign of miscarriage. However, many women spot or bleed without miscarrying. If you've had repeated pregnancy losses or unexplained severe complications of pregnancy, it could be related to antiphospholipid syndrome. Talk to your doctor about whether testing would be right for you.
If you have antiphospholipid syndrome and you're thinking of attempting pregnancy, treatments are available during your pregnancy. But be sure to seek the care of an expert obstetrical provider to discuss your options.
When it's an emergency
Seek emergency care if you have certain other serious signs and symptoms. Look for:
- Signs and symptoms of stroke. These include sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis of your face, arm or leg; sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech; sudden visual disturbances; sudden, severe headache; and dizziness.
- Signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism. These include sudden shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing up blood-streaked sputum.
- Signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. These include the development of leg swelling or pain.
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