von Willebrand Disease


von Willebrand disease (vWD) is a genetic blood disorder. It decreases the amount or the effectiveness of von Willebrand factor. This factor is a sticky protein. It helps to create a plug at the site of an injury to stop bleeding. Low levels or ineffective von Willebrand factor can cause bleeding problems.There are 3 major types of vWD:
  • Type 1—most mild and most common form
  • Type 2—less common than type 1
  • Type 3—most serious form and very rare
Genetic Material
Chromosome DNA
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vWD is caused by a genetic defect. The specific defect varies by the type of vWD, for example:
  • Type 1—results in low levels of von Willebrand factor
  • Type 2—results in von Willebrand factor that does not work well
  • Type 3—results in no von Willebrand factor
This genetic defect is most often inherited from the parent. A child can develop type 1 or type 2 vWD if just one parent has the defect. For type 3, both parents must have the defective gene. Some people may have the gene for vWD without having symptoms. They can still pass this gene to their offspring.vWD can also develop from other medical conditions or medications. This is called acquired von Willebrand syndrome.

Risk Factors

Having family members with vWD increases your risk of getting this disease.


Many people with the vWD gene have mild symptoms or none at all. It may only be noticed after an injury or medical procedure.Symptoms usually begin in childhood and waver throughout life. The severity will vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:
  • Easy bruising
  • Frequent or prolonged nosebleeds
  • Prolonged bleeding from the gums and minor cuts
  • Heavy or prolonged bleeding during menstrual periods
  • Bloody urine
  • Prolonged bleeding after injury, childbirth, surgery, or invasive dental procedures
Type 3 vWD can also result in severe bleeding events with no apparent cause. This type can also cause bleeding into the joints. This can cause pain and swelling in joints.

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