Sticky Blood: Antiphospholipid Syndrome

This sometimes fatal blood disorder can strike when you least expect it. Diagnosis is not easy but the disorder can be diagnosed by using blood tests, computed tomography, CT scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Strokes, heart attacks and blood clots are all part and parcel to sticky blood. Females who have sticky blood experience multiple miscarriages and premature births. Sticky blood is a genetic autoimmune disorder of the blood. Anticardiolipin Syndrome and ANA antibodies are similar to sticky blood but not quite the same. Both carry the risk for strokes and heart attacks as well as blood clots.

Risk Factors

If you are a female and have had numerous miscarriages, or have had a stillbirth, retarded fetal growth, or toxemia, which is high blood pressure in pregnancy, or an unexplained placental abruption, you should be tested for antiphospholipid antibodies. Anyone who has ever had a blood clot diagnosed of any kind or has suffered a heart attack, stroke or autoimmune disorder, including those with lupus, should ask about sticky blood.

Individuals with antiphospholipid syndrome (sticky blood) can be treated with an injection of a blood thinner, Heparin, for prevention of blood clots. Coumadin may be given as a long-term prescription or be asked to take long-term dose of baby aspirin.

Doctors may place certain individuals on Prednisone. Any and all treatments should only be done if the patient is well aware of the risks and benefits of the treatment.


All pregnant women should be made aware of what sticky blood is and how it can affect their pregnancy. If a pregnant woman knows she has the antiphospholipid antibodies she can be monitored on a monthly basis throughout the pregnancy. Monitoring may involve ultrasound, non-stress tests, and other monitoring devices so deemed necessary. There is now a national registry for symptomatic APS patients.

Sticky blood can occur at any age, but typically affects individuals age 50 or older. Symptoms of sticky blood may include headaches, numbness in the hands, slight memory issues and it may first appear as “mini-strokes”, or as a heart attack in a young individual.

Individuals with lupus, or valvular heart disease may be associated with APS or other autoimmune diseases, even with viral infections.

The strange thing about sticky blood is that symptoms can resolve over time, even disappear. Diagnosis is made with the antiphospholipid antibody test.

Blood Thinners

Did you know that vitamin E, garlic and ginkgo are all natural blood thinners and may be beneficial for those with sticky blood?

If you have a history of blood clots and have sticky blood your doctor may put you on prescription anticoagulant drugs Coumadin and will need to monitor your blood to be sure it doesn’t get too thin. Treatment is essential and so is monitoring because the consequences of sticky blood can be serious.