Just Heavy Menses or Something More? Raising Awareness of von Willebrand Disease
OVERVIEW: Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder, with an estimated prevalence of up to 1.3% of the U.S. population, or 4 million Americans. It's caused by a deficiency of or defects in von Willebrand factor, a protein necessary for blood to clot. Many nurses and other health care providers, as well as patients, are unaware of the disorder, its symptoms, and its associated risks. Although the disorder occurs equally in males and females, it can be more troublesome in females. Heavy menses beginning at menarche is one of the most common presentations, but because the disorder is inherited and other family members may have similarly heavy menses, the assumption may be that this is normal. This article describes von Willebrand disease and its three types, explains how to recognize and investigate suggestive symptoms, and outlines management strategies.
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