von Willebrand Disease FAQs

What is a bleeding disorder?

Bleeding disorder is the term for a medical condition in which blood cannot clot properly, leading to prolonged bleeding and frequent bruising. Bleeding disorders are also referred to as coagulopathy, abnormal bleeding and clotting disorders.1

What is von Willebrand disease (VWD)?

von Willebrand disease (VWD) is the most common bleeding disorder, affecting up to 1% of the population. People with VWD take longer to stop bleeding than normal because they have low levels of von Willebrand factor (VWF), a blood protein necessary for normal clotting of blood. In VWD, bleeding can range from mild to severe. Bleeding events can occur after injury or without cause.2

What percentage of people have VWD?

VWD affects up to 1% of people and occurs in both males and females.2

What causes VWD?

VWD is caused by a defect or deficiency of VWF.

What are the symptoms of VWD?

Symptoms of VWD depend on the type and severity of the condition. The most common symptoms include easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds, bleeding gums, heavy periods (menstrual cycles), and prolonged bleeding after cuts or surgery (including dental work). Severe symptoms include bleeding in the stomach, intestines, kidney, or bladder.

How do I know if I have VWD?

If you suspect you might have VWD, you need to talk to your healthcare professional and get tested and diagnosed. An early, accurate diagnosis is important, since treatment depends on the type of VWD you have.

How is VWD treated?

Treatment for VWD depends on the type of VWD and the severity of symptoms. The goal of therapy is to correct the clotting problem. This is usually accomplished by raising the levels of von Willebrand factor (VWF) and another protein called factor VIII in the bloodstream. Most cases of VWD are mild, and you may need treatment only if you have surgery, tooth extraction, or an accident.2

What is a hemophilia treatment center (HTC)?

A hemophilia treatment center (HTC) is a clinic where medical experts and other specialists work together to provide specialized care, education, and support to people with bleeding disorders, including VWD. The healthcare teams at HTCs include pediatricians, adult and pediatric hematologists (healthcare professionals who specialize in blood disorders), nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and dentists.

There are more than 100 federally funded HTCs throughout the United States. Locate an HTC in your area

Are support groups available for people with VWD?

Yes, there are several support groups for people with bleeding disorders and their loved ones. The National Hemophilia Foundation’s Chapter Centers offer support groups in some areas. You may also find a support group at a local HTC.