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 may meet with a specialist in vascular disease, obstetrics or hematology. You're more likely to see a specialist if testing done for unexplained clotting or pregnancy loss shows antiphospholipid antibodies.
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 remember all of 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's the most likely cause of my 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?
- Does this condition increase my risk of health problems during pregnancy? Are treatment options available to reduce that risk?
- 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 additional questions during your appointment.
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:
April 15, 2014
- 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?
- Have you noticed a red, net-like rash on your wrists or knees?
- Do you smoke?
- Do any of your close relatives have antiphospholipid syndrome?
- Giannakopoulos B, et al. Pathogenesis of the antiphospholipid syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:1033.
- What is antiphospholipid antibody syndrome? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/aps/. Accessed Dec. 2, 2013.
- Learning about antiphospholipid syndrome. National Human Genome Research Institute. http://www.genome.gov/pfv.cfm?pageID=17516396. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2013. 52nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Bermas BL, et al. Pathogenesis of the antiphospholipid syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 5, 2013.
- Donadini MP, et al. Antiphospholipid syndrome: A challenging hypercoagulable state with systemic manifestations. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America. 2010;24:669.
- Arnaud L, et al. Efficacy of aspirin for the primary prevention of thrombosis in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies: An international and collaborative meta-analysis. Autoimmunity Reviews. 2013 [In Press]. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Bermas BL, et al. Treatment of the antiphospholipid syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4, 2013.
- Lockshin MD. Pregnancy and antiphospholipid syndrome. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology. 2013;69:585.
- Wijetilleka S, et al. Novel insights into pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of antiphospholipid syndrome. Current Opinion in Rheumatology. 2012;24:473.
- Arachchillage AJ, et al. Use of new oral anticoagulants in antiphospholipid syndrome. Current Rheumatology Report. 2013;15:331.
- Blood thinner pills: Your guide to using them safely. Rockville, Md.: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/btpills.htm. Accessed Dec. 5, 2013.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Institute of Medicine. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2001/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Vitamin-A-Vitamin-K-Arsenic-Boron-Chromium-Copper-Iodine-Iron-Manganese-Molybdenum-Nickel-Silicon-Vanadium-and-Zinc.aspx. Accessed Dec. 5, 2013.
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