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What is Von Willebrand Disease?

Von Willebrand disease is a lifetime bleeding disorder in which your blood does not clot well. People with the condition have low levels of von Willebrand factor, a protein that helps blood clot, or the protein does not work as it should.

The majority of people with the disease are born to it, having inherited it from one or both parents. Although, warning signs, like heavy bleeding after a dental procedure, may not show up for years.

Von Willebrand disease cannot be cured. But with treatment and self-care, the majority of people with this disease could lead active lives.

Von Willebrand Disease Symptoms

The majority of people with von Willebrand disease do not know it because the signs are mild or absent. The most common sign of the condition is unusual bleeding.

There are three major types of the disease. The amount of bleeding differs from one person to another, depending upon the type and severity of the disease.

If you have von Willebrand disease, you may have:

Extreme bleeding from an injury or after surgery or dental work

Nosebleeds that do not stop within ten minutes

Heavy or long menstrual bleeding

Blood in your urine or stool

Easy bruising or lumpy bruises

Menstrual signs and symptoms might include:

Blood clots greater than one inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter in your menstrual flow

The requirement to change your menstrual pad or tampon more than once an hour

The requirement to use double sanitary protection for menstrual flow

Signs and symptoms of anemia, including tiredness, fatigue, or shortness of breath

When should you see a doctor?

Contact your doctor or primary care physician if you have bleeding that lasts a long time or is difficult to stop.

Von Willebrand Disease Causes

The common cause of von Willebrand disease is an inherited unusual gene that controls von Willebrand factor a protein that plays a crucial role in blood clotting.

When you have low levels of this protein or it does not perform as it should, small blood cells known as platelets cannot stick together appropriately nor attach themselves generally to the blood vessel walls when damage has happened. This interferes with the clotting process and could sometimes cause uncontrolled bleeding.

The majority of people with von Willebrand disease also have low levels of factor VIII, another protein that helps in clotting.

Factor VIII is involved in another inherited clotting disorder known as hemophilia. But unlike hemophilia, which primarily affects men, von Willebrand disease affects men and women and is generally milder.

Sometimes, von Willebrand disease could develop later in life in people who did not inherit an unusual gene from a parent. This is referred to as acquired von Willebrand syndrome, and it is probably caused by a hidden medical disease.




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