What is Von Willebrand Disease?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 25, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Von Willebrand disease hinders the body's ability to form blood clots.
  • It causes an inherited defect in a gene that controls Von Willebrand factor.
  • The protein also carries an extra substance that is called factor VIII.
  • People with von Willebrand disease tend to have low levels of the factor VIII.

Von Willebrand refers to a medical condition that can lead to extended or excessive bleeding. The condition is often inherited, though in rare cases, it can develop later in life as well. The reason why Von Willebrand develops is said to be a deficiency in or the impairment of a protein called von Willebrand factors, which is an important component in the process of blood-clotting.

People with this disease take longer to form cloths and stop bleeding when they have been cut. This, therefore, encourages more loss of blood than anticipated.

Von Willebrand Disease
As mentioned earlier, the usual cause of development of von Willebrand disease is an inherited defect that occurs in the gene that controls a protein called von Willebrand factor. When this protein is scarce or is not functioning properly because of structural abnormalities, the small blood cells called platelets can neither stick to each other properly nor attach themselves normally to the walls of blood vessels when an injury occurs. The result of the interference with blood clotting process as well as uncontrolled bleeding is likely to persist.

The protein also carries an extra substance that is called factor VIII that stimulates clotting. A lot of people suffering from von Willebrand disease tend to have low levels of the factor VIII. Very rarely does von Willebrand disease develop later in life in those people who did not inherit the gene from his/her parent. This is referred to as acquired von Willebrand disease. What exactly causes this disease is not clear. It is estimated that it could be an autoimmune disease, be linked to a slow thyroid gland or to certain medications, such as anti-seizure medication or antibiotics.


Read more articles on Von Willebrand Disease.

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