Lupus and your body

Are there treatments for antiphospholipid antibodies?

Dr. Michelle Petri is the Director of the Hopkins Lupus Cohort, a longitudinal study of morbidity and mortality in systemic lupus erythematosus, and Co-Director of the Hopkins Lupus Pregnancy Center.

See all of Michelle Petri, MD, MPH's answers.

If a person has lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin antibody, or anti-β2 glycoprotein I, but has never had a thrombotic complication, some doctors will prescribe a daily baby (81 mg) aspirin tablet. However, it is always a good idea to reduce other risk factors for clotting, such as being overweight or smoking. Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy should be avoided. Also, research studies suggest that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) may play a protective role against thrombosis.

If a person has had a thrombotic complication and has these antibodies, treatment may depend on where the clot occurred. In general, after a blood clot (thrombosis) has occurred, treatment consists of “thinning” the blood to prevent future clots. This is usually done using warfarin (Coumadin), with aspirin sometimes added.

Some individuals who had initially been treated with aspirin have had a second episode of thrombosis and have then been treated with warfarin. A few have had a second episode of thrombosis even while on warfarin; however, treatment with warfarin appears to be successful overall. The length of time that this treatment is necessary is unclear. Many physicians recommend long-term or even lifelong treatment to prevent future episodes of thrombosis.

Medically reviewed on July 26, 2013