Von Willebrand Disease

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Von Willebrand Disease is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Summary
Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a common inherited bleeding disorder in the general population affecting males and females equally, but women may be disproportionately impacted due to the bleeding challenges of menstruation and childbirth. There are three main types of VWD (VWD type 1, VWD type 2, and VWD type 3) each with differing degrees of severity and inheritance patterns. Unlike hemophilia which is characterized by joint bleeding, VWD is typically characterized by mucocutaneous bleeding. VWD is caused by a defect or deficiency in von Willebrand Factor (VWF), a large protein made up of multiple subunits. VWF binds to clotting factor VIII in the circulation and protects it from being broken down. VWF also helps platelets bind to the inside of injured blood vessels. This leads to the formation of a stable blood clot which plugs an injured blood vessel and stops bleeding. If there is an insufficient quantity of VWF or if it is defective, an individual may have difficulty forming a blood clot. Most affected individuals have the relatively mild form of the disease, VWD type 1, and are not diagnosed until adulthood. A small percentage of these individuals may have prolonged bleeding during infancy or early childhood. Symptoms can include nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums, and easy bruising. In women with VWD, heavy menses frequently occurs. Affected individuals may bleed easily after injury, childbirth, and/or surgery. Bleeding from the stomach and intestines can occur but is less common.

Introduction
VWD was first described in the medical literature in 1926 by Dr. Erik von Willebrand, who differentiated the disorder from classic hemophilia. In addition to the genetic form, VWD can be acquired during life, often in relation to a separate underlying condition. This report deals specifically with the genetic forms. VWD types 1 and 3 may also be referred to as partial quantitative deficiency or total quantitative deficiency, respectively, because they are associated with low levels or near complete absence of VWF. VWD type 2 may also be referred to as qualitative VWD because VWF is present in normal or near normal levels, but doesn't function properly. In recent years, the understanding of the genetic factors and biochemistry associated with VWD has advanced considerably, especially for types 2 and 3. However, many questions and controversies still remain regarding the diagnosis and definition of VWD type 1 (see Causes section below).

Supporting Organizations

Children's Cancer & Blood Foundation

333 East 38th Street, Suite 830
New York, NY 10016-2745
Tel: (212)297-4336
Fax: (212)297-4340
Email: info@childrenscbf.org
Website: http://www.childrenscbf.org/

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
Website: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

Hemophilia Federation of America

210 7th St. SE
Suite 200B
Washington, DC 20003
USA
Tel: (202)675-6984
Fax: (202)675-6983
Tel: (800)230-9797
Email: info@hemophiliafed.org
Website: http://www.hemophiliafed.org

Irish Haemophilia Society

First Floor
Cathedral Court
Dublin, 7
Ireland
Tel: 353016579900
Fax: 353016579901
Email: info@haemophilia.ie
Website: http://www.haemophilia.ie/

NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20892-0105
Tel: (301)592-8573
Fax: (301)251-1223
Email: nhlbiinfo@rover.nhlbi.nih.gov
Website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

National Hemophilia Foundation

116 West 32nd Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
USA
Tel: (212)328-3700
Fax: (212)328-3777
Tel: (800)424-2634
Email: handi@hemophilia.org
Website: http://www.hemophilia.org

World Federation of Hemophilia

1425, boul. René-Lévesque O.
Bureau 1010
Montréal, Québec, H3G 1T7
Canada
Tel: +1 (514) 875-7944
Fax: +1 (514) 875-8916
Email: wfh@wfh.org
Website: http://www.wfh.org/en/page.aspx?pid=492

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

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Last Updated:  3/15/2016
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.