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Bleeding Disorders: Fact or Fiction

What many people believe to be true about bleeding disorders are myths rather than facts. For example, a child with a bleeding disorder will not gush blood from a cut finger. While bleeding disorders are relatively rare, we’ll point out what they really mean for people living with them.

This section on Bleeding Disorders covers:

Fact or Fiction? Test Your Knowledge

Here’s a chance for you to test your knowledge (and misconceptions) about 2 common bleeding disorders—hemophilia and VWD.

You got out of 5 correct.

What Are Bleeding Disorders?

  • Bleeding disorders affect blood clotting
  • Without effective blood clotting, large external cuts and lacerations and internal injuries, including soft tissue and joint bleeds, cannot heal properly
  • Internal bleeding into the joints can cause pain, swelling, and, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage
  • Two of the more common types of bleeding disorders are hemophilia and von Willebrand disease (VWD)
  • Currently, there is no cure for hemophilia or VWD, but there are treatments to help people with these bleeding disorders lead healthy, active lives
  • The mainstays of treatment for bleeding disorders are the replacement and/or stimulation of the deficient clotting factor(s)

Watch the video below to learn how blood clots form.

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What Is Hemophilia?

  • Hemophilia is an inherited blood disorder. That means it’s passed from the parent to the child through genes
  • In about one-third of cases of hemophilia, however, there is no known family history of hemophilia; instead, the disorder results when a spontaneous change in a gene (called a mutation) occurs
  • Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder in which one of the proteins that cause the blood to clot (called blood clotting factors) is missing or there isn’t enough of it to work properly
  • The 2 main forms of hemophilia are hemophilia A (factor VIII [8] deficiency) and hemophilia B (factor IX [9] deficiency)
  • Hemophilia A (sometimes called classic hemophilia) occurs in 1 in 5000 live male births
  • Hemophilia B (sometimes called Christmas disease) occurs in 1 in 25,000 live male births
  • Currently, an estimated 20,000 people in the United States have hemophilia

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What Is VWD?

  • VWD is a blood disorder in which either there isn’t enough of the specific protein von Willebrand factor (vWF) in the blood or this protein doesn’t work properly. The result: heavy or difficult-to-stop bleeding. vWF also carries clotting factor VIII (8), the same protein that is missing or doesn’t work properly in people who have hemophilia A
  • VWD, like hemophilia, is an inherited bleeding disorder, but VWD is more common. In fact, VWD is the most common of all the inherited bleeding disorders
  • About 1 in 100 to 1000 people has VWD, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
  • VWD affects both men and women

To learn much more about these bleeding disorders, go to Hemophilia and VWD.

Better You Know: A New Resource from NHF

If you have symptoms of a bleeding disorder, your life can be better if you know. Better if you seek care. Better if you get treatment. Find out if you are at risk, and take the first step in feeling better.