Conditions related to APS
Some people with APS will also have other autoimmune conditions, as may other members of their family. APS has been linked with many other autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease, but the main autoimmune ‘cousins’ of APS are:
Lupus is often the autoimmune condition most closely associated with APS; the first ever group of patients found to have antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) were lupus patients.
Approximately 30%-40% of lupus patients have aPL, and around 15% of these people develop antiphospholipid syndrome which increases their risk of clotting.
With lupus, the autoimmune system attacks its own organs such as the kidneys, and produces common symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain and skin rashes.
Raynaud's phenomenon (usually just called Raynaud's) is a common condition that affects the blood supply to certain parts of the body, usually the fingers and toes. During a Raynaud's attack, the blood vessels go into a temporary spasm which blocks the flow of blood. This causes the affected area to change colour to white, then blue and then finally red as the blood flow returns.
You may also experience pain, numbness and pins and needles in the affected body parts. Symptoms can last from a few minutes to several hours. Raynaud's is usually triggered by cold temperatures or by anxiety or stress.
For an overview, please visit the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Raynauds-phenomenon/Pages/Introduction and for more in-depth information please visit the Scleroderma and Raynaud's UK website: www.sruk.co.uk/
A significant number of APS patients will also have Sjogrens syndrome (pronounced show-grens) – another autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack the body’s tear and saliva glands, reducing the amount of saliva and tears produced.
This can cause dry eyes, dry mouth, digestive problems, fatigue, aches and joint pains along with other symptoms.
For an overview, please visit the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/sjogrens-syndrome/Pages/Introduction and for more in-depth information please go to the British Sjogrens Association website: www.bssa.uk.net
Many patients with APS have relatives with a history of thyroid disease, particularly Graves’ disease.
Graves' disease is the most common cause of overactive thyroid and is another autoimmune disease. It can run in families and can occur at any age, although it is most common in women aged 20-40 years old. You are more likely to develop Graves' disease if you smoke.
If you have Graves' disease, your eyes may also be affected, causing discomfort and double vision. This is known as Graves' ophthalmopathy. You may find that your eyes bulge out, or appear more prominent.
For an overview, please visit the NHS Choices website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/thyroid-over-active/pages/causes and for more in-depth information please go to the British Thyroid Foundation's website: www.btf-thyroid.org