March is Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month. Thousands of people in the United States are diagnosed with a bleeding disorder, so the more information we have about it, the more we can help people with these conditions. Until recently, knowledge about bleeding disorders like hemophilia were not as well known. The following is some basic information on what to know about bleeding conditions.
History of Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month
Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month has been observed in the United States since 2016. It was previously known as Hemophilia Awareness Month since 1986, but expanded to include all forms of bleeding conditions. In the U.S., upwards of 30,000 males were diagnosed with hemophilia, and that does not include other bleeding disorders. The focused month aims to increase awareness of these conditions with the public, health professionals, and lawmakers.
What Are Bleeding Disorders?
In general, a bleeding disorder refers to conditions that affect how the blood clots. These are rare but life-altering disorders for people who experience them. If the blood does not clot properly, you are at risk for excessive bleeding after a surgical procedure or injury. Bleeding disorders can be genetically inherited, so it’s important to know if you have a family history.
Types of Disorders
When it comes to bleeding disorders awareness, understanding the basics of each condition is important. Here is some information about common bleeding disorders.
Von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand Disease, also known as VWD, is thought to be the most common inherited bleeding disorder. It is named after Erik von Willebrand, who first brought attention to the condition. VWD involves low levels of protein that causes blood to clot normally. It is most often inherited but can also be acquired in rarer cases.
Hemophilia is another common bleeding disorder, although it is still classified as a rare condition. Similar to VWD, hemophilia is marked by deficiencies in the ability for the blood to clot normally due to low clotting factor levels. Hemophilia is classified into categories of A, B, and C depending on how mild or severe the condition is and the affected clotting factors.
Other Rare Bleeding Conditions
There are other bleeding disorders that are not as common as hemophilia and VWD. These include vitamin-K-dependent clotting factors and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia.
Symptoms and Treatment
Some common symptoms of bleeding disorders include:
- Frequent and/or prolonged bleeding
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Prolonged bleeding after surgery or an accident
The most common treatment for all types of bleeding conditions is factor replacement therapy. There are several options including IVIG and SCIG, which replace the deficiencies of clotting factors in the blood of people with these conditions. As bleeding disorders awareness increases, more treatment options will be available. Avoidance of full-contact sports and other circumstances where bleeding can occur is also a preventative measure for most people with blood or bleeding conditions.