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Von Willebrand Disease

Overview

Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a genetic disorder caused by missing or defective von Willebrand factor (VWF), a clotting protein. VWF binds factor VIII, a key clotting protein, and platelets in blood vessel walls, which help form a platelet plug during the clotting process. The condition is named after Finnish physician Erik von Willebrand, who first described it in the 1920s.1

 

VWD is the most common bleeding disorder. It is carried on chromosome 12 and occurs equally in men and women.1

 

Symptoms

Many people with von Willebrand disease don’t know it because the signs are mild or absent. The most common sign of the condition is abnormal bleeding. The severity of the bleeding varies from one person to another.

 

Symptoms might include:

 

  • Excessive bleeding from an injury or after surgery or dental work
  • Nosebleeds that don’t stop within 10 minutes
  • Heavy or long menstrual bleeding
  • Blood in your urine or stool
  • Easy bruising or lumpy bruises2

 

Causes

The usual cause of von Willebrand disease is an inherited abnormal gene that controls von Willebrand factor, a protein that plays a key role in blood-clotting.2

1. National Hemophilia Foundation. Von Willebrand Disease. https://www.hemophilia.org/Bleeding-Disorders/Types-of-Bleeding-Disorders/Von-Willebrand-Disease
2. Mayo Clinic. Von Willebrand disease. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/von-willebrand-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354978
Image source: https://imagebank.hematology.org/image/60954/von-willebrand-disease-type-2b
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