What is antiphospholipid syndrome (APS)?

Antiphospholipid syndrome is often referred to as APS or sticky blood syndrome.

APS is a major cause of strokes in people under the age of 50. Unfortunately, it’s often only diagnosed after a person has had a number of miscarriages, or blood clots in their arteries, veins or brain.

The condition can also be called Hughes Syndrome, after a doctor who researched and published information on the condition in the 1980s. Although it was first discovered as a secondary condition in people with lupus, APS is also a condition in its own right – this is called primary APS.


Before being diagnosed with APS and given treatment, people can have a number of blood clots in their arteries and veins. This is known as thrombosis. You may have had a stroke at a relatively young age or been told you have a low platelet count, heart or kidney problem.

Women with the condition can have several miscarriages and stillbirths. APS can also cause:

  • high blood pressure in pregnancy – known as pre-eclampsia
  • early births
  • small babies.

Many people with APS have no symptoms and feel relatively fit and well. Some other people with APS, particularly those who also have lupus, get a rash, joint pains, migraines and become very tired, even when they aren’t pregnant or don’t have blood clots.

It is not unusual for people with APS to have periods of tiredness, forgetfulness, confusion and anxiety.

Sometimes you may find it difficult to think of the words you want to say. In its extreme you may find dramatic gaps in your memory. You may forget how to do simple tasks, completely miss pre-planned events or even forget how to get home.

It’s important to get an early diagnosis and begin the right drug treatment as soon as possible to prevent future thromboses or miscarriages. It will also help you understand and get more help for the symptoms you are experiencing.