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What is von Willebrand disease (VWD)?

Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited coagulation disorder; it involves reduced functioning of a blood protein that helps control bleeding. People with VWD have a reduced function of a protein in their blood that helps control bleeding. They do not have enough of the protein or it does not work the way it should. It takes longer for blood to clot and for bleeding to stop.

VWD affects both males and females. Many people with VWD do not know that they have the disorder because their bleeding symptoms are very mild. For most people with VWD, the disorder causes little or no disruption to their lives except when there is a serious injury or need for surgery.

How is Von Willebrand disease diagnosed?

Von Willebrand disease is difficult to diagnose and patients in whom a bleeding problem is suspected should be referred to a hematologist specializing in coagulation disorders. Since the von Willebrand factor (VWF) protein has multiple functions, a bleeding disorders treatment center will need to run multiple lab tests to diagnose VWD.

Laboratory testing for VWD is difficult. VWD cannot be diagnosed with routine blood tests. Testing involves measuring a person’s level and activity of VWF, and that of another blood clotting protein, Factor VIII (FVIII). Testing is often repeated because a person's VWF and FVIII levels can vary at different times.

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