Lupus: Support and Survival

Lupus Coagulation

Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and Hughes' Syndrome are both autoimmune diseases. In such diseases, the body develops antibodies that react against the person's own normal tissue.

In Huges’ Syndrome, antibodies are formed that cause the blood to clot. These antibodies called “anti-phospholipid antibodies" cause the blood to become sticky and to clot easily.  Since blood clotting disorders are common in both Lupus and Hughes’ syndrome, it is important to determine the cause of the blood coagulation. Coagulation is the natural process of forming a blood clot to prevent blood loss from a ruptured blood vessel.

In Huges’ Syndrome, treatment is easily obtained with anticoagulant drugs. There are two main types of anticoagulants: heparin and vitamin K antagonists (e.g., warfarin). The latter have longer-lasting effects, interfering in the liver's metabolism of vitamin K, to cause production of defective clotting factors.

In Lupus, the treatment is usually more involved. Since Lupus causes inflammation all over the body, the inflammation must be controlled as well as controlling the coagulation of the blood.

In Lupus patients, the coagulation process goes out of control and blood clots form all over the body. Symptoms include blood clots in the veins or arteries in the leg, arm, kidney, liver, lung, brain, heart or other organs, recurrent miscarriages and low platelet counts. These clots can cause strokes, repeated miscarriages, and even death.

Anticoagulation therapy is then warranted for patients with “sticky blood” symptoms.  Anticoagulation occurs when anticoagulant drugs are given to prevent thrombosis (blood clotting in a vein).

Inflammation of the wall of a vein or irritation of the vein's inner lining leads to blood-clot formation, a condition known as thrombophlebitis or thrombosis. In deeper veins, this requires anticoagulants to prevent embolisms.

An embolism is an obstruction of blood flow by a substance such as a blood clot, a fat globule from a crush injury, or a gas bubble. Obstruction of an artery to the brain may cause stroke.

Treatment with anticoagulant drug therapy as well as anti-inflammatory drugs is important in controlling the symptoms of “sticky blood” in Lupus patients. If the symptoms are not controlled, then organs will be damaged, miscarriages occur, and strokes and death are more prevalent.

Clotting Test Results

What does an abnormal coagulation test mean?

Longer than normal (prolonged) results for a coagulation test means that the patient's blood is taking more time to coagulate (clot) than it should or is not clotting at all. Additional testing will usually be ordered to determine the cause.

For patients taking anticoagulants, an abnormal coagulation test will usually result in a change in the dosage or type of anticoagulant medication prescribed. Patients with lupus anticoagulants have a tendency to thrombose (to develop blood clots).

The partial thromboplastin time or PTT is a common blood test done to determine which factors are involved that cause the blood to clot. If a patient's PTT is abnormal, additional tests will be done to determine the exact cause of the problem. The PTT is the most commonly used test to monitor heparin therapy.

Normal values for PTT generally range between 25 and 38 seconds for an activated PTT and between 60 and 90 seconds if the sample is not activated. If a patient who is not receiving heparin has an increased PTT, further tests must be done to determine the cause.

If a patient is taking heparin, a PTT approximately 1 and 1/2 to 2 and 1/2 times the control value is considered that patient's goal. For example, if the control value for PTT were 34 seconds, a PTT between 51 and 85 seconds would be in a good range for the patient on heparin.

Contact the Lupus Foundation of America or the local Chapter that serves your area for more information about lupus, or the programs and services the LFA offers including support group information and physician referral.

Lupus Foundation of America., Inc.
1300 Piccard Drive, Suite 200
Rockville, MD 20850-4303
301-670-9292  800-558-0121

Information gathered from :

Searching for ways to deal with the depression, the frustrations, the questions about lupus, I joined a support group online.  LUPIES has been a wonderful gift.  I have learned more from the information I found on the support web site from other sufferers of Lupus than I did from my doctor.
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