Patients may be diagnosed with “primary APS” when APS is the underlying autoimmune disease, or “secondary APS” when the APS diagnosis is combined with Lupus.
In a new study published in the American College of Rheumatology’s ACR Open, researchers found that many patients perceive their physical and cognitive function as less than optimal.
How is antiphospholipid syndrome diagnosed?
Patients with APS have many self-reported symptoms that affect different dimensions of quality of life. However, they are not routinely able to explain these effects in a way that can be attributed to APS.
More often, APS is studied from a physician’s perspective. Here, the authors used validated patient-reported outcome measures to ask how patients systematically and consistently view their health.
One hundred and thirty-nine APS patients at University of Michigan Health were administered three questionnaires each after their appointment with an APS physician. Questionnaires asked APS patients to rate their physical function, cognitive function, and pain intensity.
The study found that about half of the patients had a physical function score of less than 45, indicating at least mild self-perceived impairment in how well a person can perform daily physical activities.
Although questionnaires of cognitive function are not as widely used as those for physical function, a quarter of patients with primary APS have a cognitive score of less than 40, indicating at least moderate self-perceived impairment in this domain.
Interestingly, impairments in self-reported physical and cognitive function as well as higher pain intensity were associated not only with clinical markers of more severe disease, but also with potentially modifiable lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking status.
Distributing a questionnaire specifically targeting depression and SSRI use, along with assessing impairments in cognitive function, may help to better understand how these symptoms and related medications affect APS patients.
As a next step, the researchers hope to apply the Montreal Objective Cognitive Assessment, a standard method for objectively assessing cognitive function, to more patients who fill out questionnaires.
This can help the team understand how well self-perceived cognitive function predicts actual cognitive performance.