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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Lupus Anticoagulant – When Your Immune System Turns Against You

Autoimmune conditions refer to those disorders in which a body’s immune system attacks itself. Under normal circumstances, your immune system protects you against various diseases by creating antibodies to fight them.

But in autoimmune diseases, the opposite of it happens. It directs autoantibodies to attack the healthy cells in your skin, hair, muscles, and joints.

Lupus anticoagulant (LAs) is the name given to a kind of antibodies that get produced by your immune system. This type of antibodies is different from the normal ones as they attack the healthy cells of your body.

Symptoms of Lupus Anticoagulant

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A tired woman, Credit: Pixabay

If a person experiences the following symptoms a lupus anticoagulant test is ordered by the doctor. Since LA is typically associated with the formation of blood clots so its symptoms are seen in accordance with the occurrence of blood clots in different organs of the body.

Symptoms of blood clotting in arms or legs

  1. Swelling and discolouration in the leg with pain

  2. Swelling and discolouration in the arm with pain

  3. Problems in breathing

  4. Numbness in arms or legs

Symptoms of blood clotting in the heart or lungs

  1. Pain in the chest

  2. More than usual sweating

  3. Weakness and fatigue

Symptoms of blood clotting in the stomach or kidneys

  1. Pain in belly or thigh

  2. Nausea

  3. Blood in the stool or diarrhoea

  4. High temperature

Lupus anticoagulant Test in Pregnancy

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Pregnant woman, Credit: Pixabay

Women who are repeatedly suffering from miscarriages are also recommended to undergo a lupus anticoagulant test in pregnancy. If found positive, it can be a possible explanation for the pregnancy complications arising out of the formation of blood clots that result in frequent miscarriages.

Tests For Determining the Presence Of Lupus Anticoagulants

If you are suffering from a recurrent blood clot formation, or are troubled by frequent miscarriages then your doctor will prescribe the following tests in order to determine the presence of LAs in your blood. They are done because there is no one single test that can confirm the presence of Lupus Anticoagulant antibodies.

  1. Partial Thromboplastin Time Test (PTT), to assess the time period for blood clotting to take place.

  2. dilute Russell’s Viper Venom Test ( dRVVT)

  3. Kaolin Plasma Clotting Time (KCT)

Interpretation of Lupus Anticoagulant Test Results

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Doctor with test results, Credits: Pixabay

Only a PTT test result cannot be used to confirm that a person is lupus anticoagulant positive. If LAs are found on two occasions with a minimum gap of 12 weeks it may mean that LAs are present in your blood. The result is ascertained along with other clinical parameters to fully confirm the diagnosis.

Can Lupus Anticoagulants be Treated?

LAs treatment varies from person to person. Common medical treatments are:

  1. Blood-thinning medications like heparin and warfarin.

  2. Steroids like prednisone and cortisone stop the immune system from generating such antibodies.

  3. Plasmapheresis, a process by which the plasma that contains LAs is substituted with the plasma that doesn’t contain LAs.

What Else Can Be Done?

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Woman exercising, Credits: Pixabay

Apart from the treatments, one can make certain lifestyle changes to keep such diseases at bay. Ensure that exercise is any form is a part of your daily life, along with a well-balanced diet.

It’s always a good idea to maintain a healthy weight. Blood clots are not able to dissolve in the presence of too many fat cells. Reducing weight will decrease the number of such cells that promote blood clotting.

Give up harmful habits like smoking and drinking excessively. Both of these are shown to be linked to blood clotting. Additionally, limit your intake of vitamin K rich food items like spinach cabbage, broccoli as they can lead to the formation of blood clots.

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