Bleeding disorders

Bleeding disorders affect the blood clotting process, called coagulation. In a normal blood clotting process, blood cell platelets rush to an injured blood vessel and form a clot to slow and stop any bleeding.

Bleeding disorders cause an inability to form blood clots normally, which can cause prolonged bleeding after injury, menstruation, etc. Cuts and injury are of particular concern for those living with bleeding disorders due to potential for internal bleeding and damage to joints, organs, and tissues.

Bleeding disorders range in severity from mild to severe and are usually inherited, though some can be developed.

Blood clotting most often involves blood cells known as platelets and proteins known as clotting factors. For individuals with bleeding disorders, these factors are produced at a lower level or can even be missing.

Hemophilia is an inherited condition and occurs in families, however in one-third of cases it appears in families with no previous history of the disorder. The genetic alteration causing hemophilia is passed down from parent to child through generations. Men with hemophilia will pass the gene on to their daughters but not their sons. Women who carry the gene can pass the gene on to their sons and daughters. Sons with the gene will have hemophilia. Some women and girls who carry the gene may also experience bleeding problems.

Von Willebrand disorder (VWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. This disorder is caused by when there is not enough von Willebrand factor in the blood or it does not work the way it should. It takes longer for blood to clot and for bleeding to stop.