Background: The characteristics and the clinical course of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) in high-risk patients that are positive for all three recommended tests that detect the presence of antiphospholipid (aPL) antibodies have not been described.
Methods: This retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data examined patients referred to Italian Thrombosis Centers that were diagnosed with definite APS and tested positive for aPL [lupus anticoagulant (LA), anti-cardiolipin (aCL), and anti-beta2-glycoprotein I (beta2GPI) antibodies]. Laboratory data were confirmed in a central reference laboratory.
Results: One hundred and sixty patients were enrolled in this cohort study. The qualifying events at diagnosis were venous thromboembolism (76 cases; 47.5%), arterial thromboembolism (69 cases; 43.1%) and pregnancy morbidity (11 cases; 9.7%). The remaining four patients (2.5%) suffered from catastrophic APS. The cumulative incidence of thromboembolic events in the follow-up period was 12.2% (95% CI, 9.6-14.8) after 1 year, 26.1% (95% CI, 22.3-29.9) after 5 years and 44.2% (95% CI, 38.6-49.8) after 10 years. This was significantly higher in those patients not taking oral anticoagulants as compared with those on treatment (HR=2.4 95% CI 1.3-4.1; P<0.003). Major bleeding associated with oral anticoagulant therapy was low (0.8% patient/years). Ten patients died (seven were cardiovascular deaths).
Conclusions: Patients with APS and triple positivity for aPL are at high risk of developing future thromboembolic events. Recurrence remains frequent despite the use of oral anticoagulants, which significantly reduces the risk of thromboembolism.