- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Hughes' syndrome

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A common autoimmune prothrombotic disease characterised by an increased tendency to form thromboses. Any blood vessel can be affected, including the veins and the arteries, causing increased risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Some clots occur in patients soon after starting on the oral contraceptive pill (oestrogen-containing types). In pregnancy, the placenta can be affected by small clots preventing vital nutrients getting to the baby, and there is an increased risk of miscarriage, particularly in mid or late pregnancy. The disorder can affect both men and women, from adolescence to hight age.

Neurological complications include headaches and sometimes diplopia, memory loss, ataxia, and "multiple sclerosis-like" features. Because of these features the disorder can be mistaken for multiple sclerosis or early onset Alzheimer's disease.

The disease is caused by the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies in the blood. A genetic link is suspected.


  • G. R. V. Hughes:
    Thrombosis, abortion, cerebral disease and lupus anticoagulant.
    The British Medical Journal, London, 1983, 287: 1088-1089.

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