Objectives: To study the clinical characteristics at diagnosis and during follow-up of patients with the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and to analyze the influence of treatment on their outcome.
Patients: One hundred patients with APS were included (86% female and 14% male; mean age, 36 years). Sixty-two percent had primary APS and 38% had APS associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The median length of follow-up was 49 months.
Results: Fifty-three percent of the patients had thromboses, 52% had thrombocytopenia, and 60% of the women had pregnancy losses. Patients with APS associated with SLE had a higher prevalence of hemolytic anemia (P = .02), thrombocytopenia (platelet count lower than 100 x 10(9)/L) (P = .004), antinuclear antibodies (P = .0002), and low complement levels. Fifty-three percent of the patients with thrombosis had recurrent episodes (86% in the same site as the previous thrombotic event). Recurrences were observed in 19% of the episodes treated with long-term oral anticoagulation, in 42% treated prophylactically with aspirin, and in 91% in which anticoagulant/antiaggregant treatment was discontinued (P = .0007). Multivariate analysis showed that prophylactic treatment and older age had an independent predictive value for rethrombosis. Prophylactic treatment during pregnancy (usually with aspirin) increased the live birth rate from 38% to 72% (P = .0002).
Conclusions: Patients with APS have a high risk of recurrent thromboses. Long-term oral anticoagulation seems to be the best prophylactic treatment to prevent recurrences. Prophylactic treatment with aspirin during pregnancy reduced the rate of miscarriages remarkably.