Bleeding Disorders


Bleeding disorders are a group of disorders that share the inability to form a proper blood clot. They are characterized by extended bleeding after injury, surgery, trauma or menstruation. Sometimes the bleeding is spontaneous, without a known or identifiable cause. Improper clotting can be caused by defects in blood components such as platelets and/or clotting proteins, also called clotting factors.

Hemophilia occurs predominately in males, but can occur in women. In about one-third of cases the disorder results from a spontaneous genetic mutation rather than by a family history of hemophilia. Hemophilia treatment may require life-long infusion of clotting factor based on the severity of the disorder. Average hemophilia treatment costs between $60,000 and $260,000 per year. Early recognition and prompt treatment of bleeds can help keep these costs down as well as reduce disability.

von Willebrand Disease is a bleeding disorder caused by a defect or deficiency of a blood clotting protein, called von Willebrand Factor. The disease is estimated to occur in 1% of the population; many are undiagnosed. vWD is a genetic disease that can be inherited from either parent. It affects males and females equally. A man or woman with VWD has a 50% chance of passing the gene on to his or her child. There are no racial or ethnic associations with the disorder. A family history of a bleeding disorder is the primary risk factor.

Other Factor Deficiencies There are ten clotting factors that are necessary in forming a blood clot. Deficiencies in factors VIII and IX are well known to most people, but what of the other factor deficiencies? Not everyone is as familiar with these conditions because they are diagnosed so rarely. To date, deficiencies in eight of the lesser known coagulation factors have been documented in the medical literature. Many of these disorders were only discovered or described within the last 40 years.