What are the different types of VWD?

The type of treatment required for VWD varies from person to person. The type of VWD and severity of symptoms weigh into doctors' treatment choices. The main goal of treatment is to prevent or control bleeding. The chart below provides a quick overview of the 3 main types of VWD.

table of VWD types

How do you get VWD?

VWD is hereditary, meaning it is passed down through genes in certain families. Each type of VWD is inherited differently. A man or woman with VWD has at least a 50% chance of passing on the VWD gene to his or her child.

Acquired von Willebrand syndrome, although rare, occurs as the result of other diseases.

How do blood types affect VWD?

Blood types also have a significant effect on VWF levels in the blood. Individuals with blood type O have VWF concentrations that are about 25% lower than persons who have other blood types. It has been found that more VWD patients have type O blood than any other blood type, and it is possible that some of those patients do not have a genetic abnormality. On the other hand, because patients with type AB blood tend to have higher VWF levels, there may be people with type AB blood who have undiagnosed VWD.

VWD family tree

A family tree of VWD

To understand how the VWD gene is passed on to family members, start with the couple at the top of this page. The man has mild to moderate VWD. His chance of passing the VWD gene on to his children is 1 in 2. You can see that 2 of his 4 children have VWD.

Adapted from Hemophilia Federation of America. www.hemophiliafed.org/understanding-bleeding-disorders/what-is-vwd/inheritance-pattern/ Accessed December 17, 2020

male and female with highlighted areas of body where symptoms occur

What are the symptoms of VWD?

Symptoms of VWD can be mild, moderate, or severe. Some people may not have any symptoms at all.

The following 5 signs and symptoms are common in VWD and other bleeding disorders:

  • 1Easy bruising
  • 2Frequent or prolonged nosebleeds
  • 3 Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods (menorrhagia)
    • Women may think heavy bleeding is normal because it runs in their family
    • Heavy menstrual bleeding may result in anemia (low iron levels), a condition caused by lack of circulating red blood cells and marked by fatigue and weakness
  • 4Prolonged bleeding following injury, childbirth, or surgery
  • 5Prolonged bleeding during dental procedures

If you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, please tell your nurse or doctor immediately.

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