Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a bleeding disorder. It affects your blood’s ability to clot. If your blood doesn’t clot, you can have heavy, hard-to-stop bleeding after an injury. The bleeding can damage your internal organs. Rarely, the bleeding may even cause death.

In VWD, you either have low levels of a certain protein in your blood or the protein doesn’t work well. The protein is called von Willebrand factor, and it helps your blood clot.

Normally, when one of your blood vessels is injured, you start to bleed. Small blood cell fragments called platelets clump together to plug the hole in the blood vessel and stop the bleeding. Von Willebrand factor acts like glue to help the platelets stick together and form a blood clot.

Von Willebrand factor also carries clotting factor VIII (8), another important protein that helps your blood clot. Factor VIII is the protein that’s missing or doesn’t work well in people who have hemophilia, another bleeding disorder.

VWD is more common and usually milder than hemophilia. In fact, VWD is the most common inherited bleeding disorder. It occurs in about 1 out of every 100 to 1,000 people. VWD affects both males and females, while hemophilia mainly affects males.

Symptoms:

  • Frequent, large bruises from minor bumps or injuries
  • Frequent or hard-to-stop nosebleeds
  • Prolonged bleeding from the gums after a dental procedure
  • Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding in women
  • Blood in your stools from bleeding in your intestines or stomach
  • Blood in your urine from bleeding in your kidneys or bladder
  • Heavy bleeding after a cut or other accident
  • Heavy bleeding after surgery

Treatment:

Treatment for von Willebrand disease (VWD) is based on the type of VWD you have and how severe it is. Most cases of VWD are mild, and you may need treatment only if you have surgery, tooth extraction, or an accident.

Medicines are used to:

  • Increase the amount of von Willebrand factor and factor VIII released into the bloodstream
  • Replace von Willebrand factor
  • Prevent the breakdown of blood clots
  • Control heavy menstrual bleeding in women

 

For More Information visit NHLBI – VWD.