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Lupus Anticoagulants

What You Need to Know


Updated May 09, 2014

You may at some point encounter the term, or discover that you have or carry, lupus anticoagulant antibodies. Lupus anticoagulant antibodies react with proteins bound to phospholipid, a type of fat molecule that is part of the normal cell membrane, and is found in the blood stream. They are also categorized as "antiphospholipid antibodies."

These antibodies interfere with the normal function of blood vessels and can lead to narrowing of the blood vessels or blood clots. These complications can lead to stroke, heart attack, and miscarriage.

While lupus anticoagulants are typically discovered in systemic lupus erythematosus patients, they are also known to occur in people with other autoimmune diseases, certain infections, and tumors, as well as in people who take certain medications, including phenothiazines, phenytoin, hydralazine, quinine, amoxicillin, and birth control pills.

And while these antibodies were first discovered in lupus patients, you don’t have to have the disease to carry the antibodies. Typically, 50 percent of those that carry the antibodies do not have lupus.

Various methods are used to detect lupus anticoagulants and antiphospholipid antibodies, including:

  • Partial thromboplastin time, which looks at how long it takes for blood to clot
  • Tissue thromboplastin inhibition test, another blood clotting test, and
  • Russell viper venom time, which uses phospholipid and venom from a Russell viper snake to detect lupus anticoagulant.

It is important to note that different methods may not always give the same result.

Those that exhibit lupus anticoagulants are often prescribed blood thinners to help with clots, but only when abnormal clotting presents itself. Steroids maybe be prescribed to assist in lowering antibody levels. With the right therapy, the condition is manageable. It is believed that the condition cannot be prevented.

Always keep in mind the symptoms of a blood clot, and call a health care professional if any occur. Those symptoms include:

  • Swelling or redness in the leg
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness and pallor in an arm or leg


Antiphospholipid Antibodies Lupus Foundation of America. August 2008.

Lupus Anticoagulant. William Matsui, MD, Assistant Professor of Oncology, Division of Hematologic Malignancies, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. February 2007.

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