In most cases, it's the complications of antiphospholipid syndrome — such as deep vein thrombosis, stroke or pregnancy loss — that will prompt you to seek medical care. Depending on your complication, you'll likely see a specialist. For deep vein thrombosis, for instance, you'll meet with a hematologist or a vascular specialist. For stroke, you'll see a neurologist, and for pregnancy loss or complications, you'll meet with your obstetrician or gynecologist.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, including what to expect from the doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
- Write down any signs or symptoms you've had, including any that may seem unrelated to your main health problem.
- Write down key personal information, including any major recent events or changes in your life.
- Make a list of your key medical information, including other conditions or infections with which you've been diagnosed. Be sure to mention if any close relatives have had antiphospholipid syndrome. Also write down the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
For antiphospholipid syndrome, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Are there any other possible causes for these symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- Will I need to take medications long term?
- What are the possible side effects of the medications you're prescribing?
- How will you determine whether my treatment is working?
- Does this condition increase my risk of any other medical problems?
- Do I need to follow any diet or activity restrictions?
- Does this condition increase my risk of health problems during pregnancy? Are treatment options available to reduce that risk?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
Apr. 02, 2011
- Do you have a history of stroke or blood clots?
- Do you have a history of pregnancy complications, such as high blood pressure, miscarriage or stillbirth?
- Do you have lupus or another autoimmune disorder?
- Have you ever been tested for sexually transmitted infections or chronic viral diseases, such as hepatitis?
- Have you experienced frequent headaches or migraines?
- Have you noticed a red, net-like rash on your wrists or knees?
- Do you smoke?
- What medications, vitamins or supplements are you currently taking?
- Do any of your close relatives have antiphospholipid syndrome?
- Donadini MP, et al. Antiphospholipid syndrome: A challenging hypercoagulable state with systemic manifestations. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America. 2010;24:669.
- Erkan D, et al. Antiphospholipid syndrome. In: Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1807/0.html. Accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
- Bermas BL, et al. Pathogenesis of the antiphospholipid syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
- Bermas BL, et al. Treatment of the antiphospholipid syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
- Blood thinner pills: Your guide to using them safely. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/btpills.htm. Accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
- Long BR, et al. The role of antiphospholipid syndrome in cardiovascular disease. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America. 2008;22:79.
- Bermas BL, et al. Clinical manifestations of the antiphospholipid syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
- Antiphospholipid syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/antiphosphlipid/antiphospholipid.htm. Accessed Feb. 22, 2011.
- Vitamin K. The National Academies Press. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10026&page=162. Accessed Feb. 28, 2011.
- Pruthi RK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 27, 2011.
- Giannakopoulos B, et al. How we diagnose the antiphospholipid syndrome. Blood. 2009;113:985.