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Treatment

If you have antiphospholipid antibodies but have not had blood clots or a miscarriage, your doctor may recommend that you take a low-dose aspirin every day. However, aspirin increases the risks of bleeding. Your doctor will have to determine whether the uncertain benefits are worth the risks for you.

For people with a history of blood clots, doctors usually prescribe a powerful blood thinner called warfarin (Coumadin). This medication usually is taken for life. People who take warfarin need to have their blood tested regularly. That's because if the blood is too thin, the risk of bleeding increases. If it is not thin enough, clotting is more likely.

Another commonly used blood thinner is called heparin. It may be used before you start taking warfarin. Heparin also is used for pregnant women, because warfarin is not safe for the developing fetus. Heparin is only available as an injection.

A woman with APS who is trying to become pregnant after repeated miscarriages may increase the chance of a successful pregnancy. She can do this by getting heparin injections and taking low-dose aspirin. This treatment should start as soon as the pregnancy is discovered. It continues until just before delivery.

Other medications used in advanced cases of APS include:

  • Steroids

  • Immune-suppressing drugs

  • Antiglobulin medications

However, the benefits of these medications have not been proven. And, they can cause significant side effects. They are used only for people who do not respond well to blood thinners.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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