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HealthyWomen Asks: Do You Know the Signs and Symptoms of von Willebrand Disease (VWD)?
Date:4/18/2012

RED BANK, N.J., April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Although von Willebrand disease (VWD) is the most common hereditary bleeding disorder in the United States, affecting up to 1 percent of the population, it is often misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed in women. HealthyWomen, the nation's leading nonprofit health information source for women, has developed new educational materials they hope will shine a light on a disorder that, when undiagnosed and untreated, can severely impact the quality of life for women. 

Caused when von Willebrand factor, a protein in the blood that is necessary for clotting, is either missing or not working properly, VWD affects men and women equally. Yet, when undiagnosed and untreated in women, it puts them at a greater risk for life-threatening bleeding following childbirth and for undergoing unnecessary hysterectomies.  

"Undiagnosed bleeding disorders, like von Willebrand disease, can have real health consequences for women," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of HealthyWomen. "The goal of these new materials, available on HealthyWomen.org, is to spark honest conversations among mothers, sisters and daughters about the signs and symptoms of VWD and to hopefully underscore the need for even more education about this condition."

The five signs and symptoms of von Willebrand disease are:

  • Easy bruising
  • Frequent or prolonged nosebleeds
  • Heavy, prolonged menstruation
  • Prolonged bleeding following injury or surgery
  • Prolonged bleeding during dental procedures

"Because VWD is a hereditary disorder, many women dismiss tell-tale signs like easy bruising or heavy periods as normal because their mother or other female relatives experienced similar symptoms," said Meera Chitlur, M.D., Director, Hemophilia Treatment
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SOURCE HealthyWomen
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