Antiphospholipid syndrome; its implication in cardiovascular diseases: a review

J Cardiothorac Surg. 2010 Nov 3;5:101. doi: 10.1186/1749-8090-5-101.


Antiphospholipid syndrome (APLS) is a rare syndrome mainly characterized by several hyper-coagulable complications and therefore, implicated in the operated cardiac surgery patient. APLS comprises clinical features such as arterial or venous thromboses, valve disease, coronary artery disease, intracardiac thrombus formation, pulmonary hypertension and dilated cardiomyopathy. The most commonly affected valve is the mitral, followed by the aortic and tricuspid valve. For APLS diagnosis essential is the detection of so-called antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) as anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) or lupus anticoagulant (LA). Minor alterations in the anticoagulation, infection, and surgical stress may trigger widespread thrombosis. The incidence of thrombosis is highest during the following perioperative periods: preoperatively during the withdrawal of warfarin, postoperatively during the period of hypercoagulability despite warfarin or heparin therapy, or postoperatively before adequate anticoagulation achievement. Cardiac valvular pathology includes irregular thickening of the valve leaflets due to deposition of immune complexes that may lead to vegetations and valve dysfunction; a significant risk factor for stroke. Patients with APLS are at increased risk for thrombosis and adequate anticoagulation is of vital importance during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). A successful outcome requires multidisciplinary management in order to prevent thrombotic or bleeding complications and to manage perioperative anticoagulation. More work and reporting on anticoagulation management and adjuvant therapy in patients with APLS during extracorporeal circulation are necessary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / therapy
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / physiology
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / complications
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Coronary Restenosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology*
  • Thrombosis / therapy


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid