At a Glance
Why Get Tested?
To help investigate unexplained blood clot formation, to help determine the cause of recurrent miscarriage, or as part of an evaluation for antiphospholipid syndrome
When to Get Tested?
When you have had one or more unexplained venous or arterial thrombotic episodes; when you have had recurrent miscarriages, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters
A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm
Test Preparation Needed?
The Test Sample
What is being tested?
These tests detect the presence of three classes (IgG, IgM, and/or IgA) of cardiolipin antibodies. Produced by the immune system in response to a perceived threat, these proteins are the most common antiphospholipid antibodies. They are acquired autoantibodies that can affect the body’s ability to regulate blood clotting.
Cardiolipins, and other related phospholipids, are lipid molecules normally found in cell membranes and platelets. They play an important role in the blood clotting process. When antibodies are produced against cardiolipins, they increase the risk of developing recurrent blood clots (thrombi) in arteries and veins. Cardiolipin antibodies are also associated with thrombocytopenia, recurrent miscarriages .(especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester), and with premature labour and pre-eclampsia.
Cardiolipin antibodies are frequently seen with autoimmune disorders, such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), and with other antiphospholipid antibodies, such as lupus anticoagulant. They may also occur temporarily in patients with acute infections, HIV/AIDS, some cancers, with drug treatments (such as phenytoin, penicillin, and procainamide), and asymptomatically in the elderly.
When a patient has thrombi formation, recurrent miscarriages, thrombocytopenia, cardiolipin antibodies, and/or another antiphospholipid antibody, they may be diagnosed with Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS). APS can be primary with no underlying autoimmune disorder, or secondary, existing with a diagnosed autoimmune disorder.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.
NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.
Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.
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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.