What is Hughes Syndrome?

Hughes Syndrome was first described by Prof Graham Hughes in 1983. Hughes Syndrome is also known as ‘Antiphospholipid Syndrome’ (APS) and is also commonly referred to as ‘sticky blood’.

Hughes Syndrome is a major cause of:

  • DVT
  • TIA/Stroke
  • Migraine
  • Angina
  • Recurrent miscarriage

Some key facts

  • Hughes Syndrome is a condition in which the blood has a tendency to excess clotting.
  • The two organs most susceptible to Hughes Syndrome are the brain and, in pregnancy, the placenta.
  • Hughes Syndrome is seen by every GP.
  • Hughes Syndrome is treatable.
  • Hughes Syndrome affects all age groups, but especially 15 to 50 year olds.
  • Hughes Syndrome is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system is not working properly.

In patients with Hughes Syndrome, the blood has an increased tendency to clot. This in turn makes the circulation less efficient, so depriving vital organs of oxygen and preventing them from working properly.

The onset of symptoms may be sudden, (e.g. leg thrombosis), or gradual (e.g. with migraine headaches over many years). In women the first presentation can be with miscarriage.

As distinct from other clotting disorders, Hughes Syndrome can affect arteries (e.g. angina, stroke) as well as veins.

How common is Hughes Syndrome?

There are many different estimates about how many people live with APS.

Hughes Syndrome is involved in 1 in 5 cases of:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Young strokes (under 45 years old)
  • Recurrent miscarriages

Hughes Syndrome is also involved in cases of:

  • Teenage eplilepsy
  • Angina (especially women under 45 years old)
  • Lupus

How is Hughes Syndrome diagnosed?

Hughes Syndrome is diagnosed on the basis of simple blood tests and on a history of one or more blood clots or problems in pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of Hughes Syndrome?

10 common symptoms are below:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Migraine
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA) and Stroke
  • Miscarriage
  • Seizures
  • Cold circulation
  • Chest pain
  • Atypical Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Other aches and pains (fractures, hip pain etc)

You can learn more on associated symptoms page.

How is Hughes Syndrome treated?

There are 4 main treatments for Hughes Syndrome.


  • Used for milder cases

  • Clopidogrel  a useful alternative


  • Standard treatment for more severe cases

  • May need a high INR (e.g. 3.5 -4)

3.    HEPARIN 

  • First line (emergency) treatment for thrombosis

  • Used in Hughes Syndrome pregnancy as warfarin is contraindicated.


  • Attractive (oral, no routine testing, effective and safe)

  • Experience in severe cases of Hughes Syndrome still limited

What is Lupus?

Lupus affects up to 1 in 750 of the female population. That makes it more common than Leukaemia or M.S.

Lupus mostly affects young women aged between 15 and 45. It is characterised by:

  • Fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Aches and pains
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Pleurisy
  • Multiple allergies
  • Recurrent miscarriages
  • Teenage migraines
  • Prolonged “glandular fever”
  • Teenage “growing pains”

​To find out more please visit www.londonlupuscentre.co.uk