Von Willebrand Disease
Symptoms and causes of VWD
Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a bleeding disorder that causes a person’s blood to not clot properly.
Blood contains proteins that help the blood clot—and one of these proteins is called Von Willebrand factor. People with VWD either have a low level of factor in the blood or the protein doesn’t work the way it should. This can lead to heavy bleeding that is difficult to stop. This type of heavy bleeding can sometimes be serious enough to damage joints and internal organs—or can even become life-threatening.
Who is affected by Von Willebrand?
VWD is the most common bleeding disorder, found in up to 1 percent of the U.S. population. This means that 3.2 million (or about 1 in every 100) people in the United States have the disorder.
Although VWD occurs among men and women equally, women are more likely to notice the symptoms due to heavy or abnormal bleeding during menstrual periods and childbirth.
What causes Von Willebrand?
Most people who have VWD are born with the disorder. It’s nearly always inherited—or passed down—from a parent to a child. VWD can be passed down from either the mother or the father, or both, to the child.
While rare, it is possible for a person to have VWD without a family history of the disease. This can happen if a spontaneous mutation occurs. That means there has been a change in the person’s gene.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of Von Willebrand?
- Frequent, spontaneous nosebleeds that are difficult to stop and last more than five minutes
- Easy bruising that occurs with little or no injury, usually several times a month
- Women with VWD might have heavy menstrual periods
- Longer than normal bleeding after injury, surgery, childbirth, and dental work
- Bleeding into joints or internal organs in severe cases
How is Von Willebrand diagnosed?
To find out if you have VWD, your doctor will:
- Review personal and family histories of bleeding
- Discuss unusual bruising or other signs of recent bleeding
- Check routine medications that could cause bleeding or make existing symptoms worse
- Order blood tests to measure how the blood is clotting
What treatments are available?
The treatments prescribed for VWD depend on the type and severity of the disorder. For minor bleeds, treatment may not be necessary.
PromptCare pharmacists and specialty-trained infusion nurses provide compassionate, customized care to treat bleeding disorders like VWD. Early treatment makes a difference—and infusion care is available for patients in the comfort of home.
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