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 The Bleeding Disorders Association of the Southern Tier
 
(Member organization of the Hemophilia Federation of America)

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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 or even cause death, although

this is rare.

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

von Willebrand's Disease

Normally, when one of your blood vessels is injured, you start to bleed. Small blood cell fragments called platelets (PLATE-lets) 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 inactive or missing in people who have hemophilia, another clotting disorder.

Three major types of VWD.

Type 1

In type 1 VWD, you have a low level of von Willebrand factor, and you may have lower than normal levels of factor VIII. This is the mildest and most common form of VWD. About 3 out of 4 people who have VWD have type 1.

Type 2

In type 2 VWD, the von Willebrand factor doesn't work the way it should. Type 2 is divided into subtypes: 2A, 2B, 2M, and 2N. Different gene mutations (changes) cause each type, and each is treated differently. So it's important to know the exact type of VWD that you have.

Type 3

In Type 3 VWD, you usually have no von Willebrand factor and low levels of factor VIII. Type 3 is the most serious form of VWD, but it's very rare

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of von Willebrand Disease?

The signs and symptoms of von Willebrand disease (VWD) depend on which type of the disorder you have. They also depend on how serious the disorder is. Many people have such mild symptoms that they don't know they have VWD.


If you have type 1 or type 2 VWD, you may have the following mild-to-moderate bleeding symptoms:

For more specific and factual information on von Willebrand's, including cause, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and more visit The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Source: National Institute of Health; Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

OVERVIEW

Most people who have VWD have type 1, a mild form. This type usually doesn't cause life-threatening bleeding. You may need treatment only if you have surgery, tooth extraction, or trauma. If you need treatment, medicines and medical therapies are used.

Some people who have severe forms of VWD need emergency treatment to stop bleeding before it becomes life threatening.

Early diagnosis is important. With the right treatment plan, even people who have type 3 VWD can live normal, active lives.