von Willebrand Disease (VWD)
What is VWD?
Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is the most common bleeding disorder, affecting up to 1% of all people in the United States.1
Von Willebrand Factor (VWF) is a protein that helps form blood clots to stop bleeding. People with VWD either don’t have enough VWF in their blood, or their VWF doesn’t work the way it should. Because of this, when people with VWD bleed from cuts or injuries, their bleeding takes longer to stop.
Although VWD is the most common inherited bleeding disorder, it is the one most likely to remain undiagnosed because symptoms can be mild and ignored or attributed to other causes. What’s more, the symptoms may occur either after injury or without any apparent cause.2
Symptoms of VWD include2:
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Easy bruising
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Excessive bleeding from the mouth or gums
VWD is an inherited bleeding disorder, although some people can develop VWD later in life from other medical conditions.2 There is no cure for the disease, but with the proper care and treatment, people with VWD can lead healthy, active lives.
VWD is classified by 3 primary types: type 1, type 2, and type 3. These types are based on the severity of the condition and whether the disorder stems from an absence of or defect in the VWF.2
The treatment of VWD is based on the type and severity of the disease. The goal of treatment is to address bleeding symptoms, which is usually accomplished by raising the levels of 2 factors2:
- VWF (von Willebrand Factor)
- Factor VIII (another protein in the bloodstream)
Symptoms of VWD are similar in women and men, though women might also experience heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding.2
- Von Willebrand disease. National Hemophilia Foundation. http://www.hemophilia.org/Bleeding-Disorders/Types-of-Bleeding-Disorders/von-Willebrand-Disease. Accessed December 17, 2014.
- What is von Willebrand disease? National Institutes of Health; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/vwd. Accessed October 21, 2014.