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All About Bleeding
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Von Willebrand Disease

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Jenn's Story

Read Jenn's story Avid cyclist with von Willebrand disease focuses on being happy and healthy.

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Everyone has experienced a nosebleed at some time. Learn why they occur and how to stop it.

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von Willebrand Disease Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is the most common — yet underdiagnosed — bleeding disorder, affecting about 1% of all people. VWD is caused by a defect or deficiency of a blood protein called von Willebrand factor (VWF).

von WIllebrand Factor

Von Willebrand factor is a chaperone protein for factor VIII, i.e. it carries and protects FVIII. Von Willebrand Factor also has a function of its own and is essential for normal blood clotting. VWF acts like a glue that initially makes platelets stick to the injured vessel wall. It also glues additional layers of platelets together to form a thrombus (primary platelet plug). Most people with mild/moderate VWD do not need treatment on a regular basis, but treatment may be considered for patients with severe VWD or in situations which challenge the hemostatic system such as surgery, trauma, or childbirth.

Symptoms of von Willebrand disease include:

  • Bruising easily
  • Frequent nosebleeds (epistaxis)
  • Bleeding gums or bleeding after dental work
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia
  • Prolonged bleeding after cuts or surgery
  • Bleeding in the stomach, intestines, muscles or joints in severe cases

Whereas VWD is almost always inherited, from either parent or from both parents, there are medications and medical conditions that may lead to an acquired form of VWD.


Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is one of the most common and yet underdiagnosed bleeding disorders, affecting millions of children and their families. School nurses are at the forefront of health care professionals when it comes to recognizing the symptoms of VWD, and referring students to a specialist.

Kristin’s Video Story: Living Life to the Fullest Despite Von Willebrand Disease

For information about VWD treatments, please visit the following resources:

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Last Updated: 6/15/2016 9:09 AM
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