Phil Godfrey on Antiphospholipid

Phil Godfrey from Solihull Rotary Club was our speaker on Tuesday evening on Zoom. His wife passed away in 2015 from APS and he is now a passionate presenter on this relatively unknow but fairly common medical condition.

Phil explained that Antiphospholipid (AN-te-fos-fo-LIP-id) (APS)syndrome occurs when the immune system mistakenly creates antibodies that make blood much more likely to clot. Antibodies normally protect the body against invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. This can cause dangerous blood clots in the legs, kidneys, lungs and brain. In pregnant women, antiphospholipid syndrome also can result in miscarriage and stillbirth. There’s no cure for antiphospholipid syndrome, but medications can reduce the risk of blood clots

APS syndrome can be caused by an underlying condition, such as an autoimmune disorder, infection or certain medications. Also the syndrome can develop without an underlying cause.

Depending on which organ is affected by a blood clot and how severe the obstruction of blood flow to that organ is, untreated antiphospholipid syndrome can lead to permanent organ damage or death. Complications include:

  • Kidney failure. This can result from decreased blood flow to your kidneys.
  • Stroke. Decreased blood flow to a part of your brain can cause a stroke, which can result in permanent neurological damage, such as partial paralysis and loss of speech.
  • Cardiovascular problems. A blood clot in your leg can damage the valves in the veins, which keep blood flowing to your heart. This can result in chronic swelling and discoloration in your lower legs. Another possible complication is heart damage.
  • Lung problems. These can include high blood pressure in your lungs and pulmonary embolism.
  • Pregnancy complications. These can include miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery, slow fetal growth and dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia).

Rarely, a person can have repeated clotting events in a short time, leading to progressive damage in multiple organs

Phil then continued with the risk factors which include

  • Your sex. This condition is much more common in women than in men.
  • Immune system disorders. Having another autoimmune condition, such as lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome, increases your risk of antiphospholipid syndrome.
  • Infections. This condition is more common in people who have certain infections, such as syphilis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C or Lyme disease.
  • Medications. Certain medications have been linked to antiphospholipid syndrome. They include hydralazine for high blood pressure, the heart rhythm-regulating medication quinidine, the anti-seizure medication phenytoin (Dilantin) and the antibiotic amoxicillin.
  • Family history. This condition sometimes runs in families.

This fascinating presentation was well received by all Rotarians in attendance and especially Jimmy Begg who gave a worthy vote of thanks