Cardiolipin Antibodies Test (ACL):
Cardiolipin antibodies are autoantibodies produced by the immune system that target cardiolipin in the body. This test screens for the presence of cardiolipin antibodies (IgG, IgM, and IgA) in the blood. The test is often ordered as a part of excessive clotting workup when the patient shows signs and symptoms of recurring blood clots, and to help determine the cause of recurrent miscarriages.
Factors involved to understand the normal range of Cardiolipin antibodies (ACL) levels:
Absence of cardiolipin antibodies in the body is the normal result of this test.
A negative test result indicates that cardiolipin antibodies are not present in the body. It could also mean they are not present at a measurable level in the blood at the time of the test.
Positive test result indicates that antibodies to cardiolipin are present in the body. This could indicate that the patient may have cardiolipin antibody syndrome. Moderate to high levels of cardiolipin antibodies persisting when tested 12 weeks later, indicates continued presence of the antibody. Persistent elevated levels indicate an increased risk of vascular thrombosis and are also associated with complications in pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms of the syndrome vary depending upon the location of the clot. If the clot is in deep veins of the legs, the patient may show signs and symptoms such as:
If the clot affects the lungs, following symptoms may be seen:
Testing is also ordered when a woman shows signs of obstetrical complications such as recurrent miscarriages, miscarriage late in the pregnancy, or premature birth due to eclampsia.
Cardiolipin antibodies are temporarily detected in the blood due to infections such as HIV/AIDS, certain drugs, and in elderly people. These antibodies are often detected with other antiphospholipid antibodies in certain autoimmune conditions such as lupus.
Health conditions other than autoimmune and rheumatic conditions that can trigger blood clots include smoking, prolonged bed rest, birth control pills and hormone therapy, and cancer and kidney disease.
There are no measures to prevent the development of autoantibodies or get rid of them once they develop. However, risk factors can be controlled. Smoking and obesity can increase the chances of blood clots. Hence, quitting smoking along with engaging in regular exercise to lose and maintain weight, can help reduce the risks of blood clots.
Taking blood thinners or anticoagulants can help stop the formation of blood clots and can also keep the existing clots from getting larger. Pregnant women having ACL antibodies in blood or having antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, are given treatment with heparin and low dose aspirin to reduce the risks of clots.
The test is performed using a blood sample drawn from a vein using a needle. The test has no major risks associated with it. However, using a needle might carry some minor risks such as infection, bruising, bleeding, etc. These side effects are generally harmless.
Most commonly, tests for IgM and IgG cardiolipin antibodies are ordered to determine the cause of recurrent miscarriages, thrombotic episode, or thrombocytopenia. Certain other tests are ordered along with this test to determine the cause of excessive blood clots.
Lupus anticoagulant testing is ordered along with cardiolipin antibody test to determine the cause of a prolonged PTT (Partial Thromboplastin Time), when other tests suggest a patient may have SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) or other autoimmune disorder. Antiphospholipid antibody test is often suggested, as these antibodies are observed in people with abnormal blood clots.
Other tests may include complete blood cell count (CBC) test, partial thromboplastin time and activated prothromboplastin time (aPTT) tests, and antinuclear antibody test (ANA). Imaging tests such as ultrasound may also be ordered to look for clots in veins or arteries.
If cardiolipin antibodies are detected, repeating the testing 12 weeks apart is suggested to determine when their presence is temporary or persistent.
Cardiolipin antibody test does not require any special preparation. This test helps the health care providers to determine the cause of excessive and abnormal blood clotting and figuring out the best way to treat the condition. Although cardiolipin antibodies are more commonly associated with lupus, a positive result of this test does not necessarily indicate you have lupus. Ask your doctor what the results may mean for you.
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