VWD is von Willebrand disease, the most common bleeding disorder, affecting about 1% of all people. People with VWD take longer than normal to stop bleeding.
VWD is an inherited bleeding disorder, though in very rare instances it can be acquired spontaneously. While there is no cure for the disease, with the proper care and treatment, people with VWD can lead normal, active lives.
Unfortunately, while VWD is the most common bleeding disorder, it is also the most likely to remain undiagnosed, as symptoms can sometimes be mild and be easily ignored or attributed to other causes. What’s more, they can occur after injury or without any cause at all. Symptoms of VWD include frequent nosebleeds, easy bruising, and, in women, heavy and/or sustained (ie, more than six days) menstrual bleeding. More serious symptoms can include bleeding into joints or internal organs.
In VWD, bleeding is caused by absent or ineffective von Willebrand factor (VWF), a protein in the blood. Almost everybody has VWF, which helps form blood clots to stop bleeding. People with VWD, however, either don't have enough VWF or, if they do, it may not work properly.
VWD is classified by three 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. It is important to determine which type of VWD one has, since different types require different courses of treatment. Treatment is also based on symptoms. The aim of therapy is to correct the clotting problem. This is usually accomplished by raising the levels of VWF and another protein in bloodstream known as factor VIII.
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