Von Willebrand disease is a bleeding disorder caused by a genetic mutation, leading to a deficiency in von Willebrand Factor (VWF), a protein used by the body to assist with clotting. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures, around one percent of people in the United States have this condition.
There are three kinds of von Willebrand disease: type 1, type 2, and type 3. The first is the most common form and usually results in mild bleeding problems with minimal impact on day-to-day life. Type 3, in which the body is unable to produce any VWF, is the most severe form of von Willebrand disease.
Symptoms of von Willebrand disease include bruising easily, excessive nosebleeds, abnormally heavy bleeding during menstruation, and bleeding from the gums. In type 3 cases, bleeding episodes are particularly difficult to control and patients are at a higher risk of internal bleeding.
Treatment of von Willebrand disease may involve non-replacement therapy to stimulate the release of VWF, replacement therapy using genetically engineered proteins, topical treatments to treat minor bleeding, and other drug therapies to assist with clotting. Drug classes commonly used to treat von Willebrand disease are vasopressin (ADH) and analogs and blood coagulation factors.