About von Willebrand disease

Dive into the details of von Willebrand disease—what it is, who it affects, when symptoms can occur, and more.

What is von Willebrand disease?

Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a genetic (inherited) disorder resulting in deficient or defective von Willebrand factor (VWF), a clotting factor which is an essential blood protein that helps stop bleeding.1

Von Willebrand disease, also known as angiohemophilia, is named after Erik von WIllebrand, a Finnish physician who first described seeing it in a patient in 1926.1

Doctor going through a checklist with the patient.

VWD is the most common inherited bleeding disorder3

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About 1% of people in the US have VWD

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3.2 million people in the US may have VWD

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VWD affects both men and women equally

There are 3 types of VWD—and some subtypes.3

Type 1 Von Willebrand Disease

  • The body does not make enough von Willebrand factor (but it works properly)
  • This is the most common type. About 85% of people with VWD have type 1

Type 2 Von Willebrand Disease

  • The body makes enough von Willebrand factor, but it does not work properly
  • About 12% of people with VWD have type 2. There are 4 subtypes of type 2
Type 2A
The VWF cells are not the right size, so they don't stick the platelets together well enough to form a clot.
Type 2B
VWF attaches to platelets when it is not supposed to. The body disposes of the platelets along with the attached VWF.
Type 2M
VWF is not able to stick to the platelets, so a blood clot does not form.
Type 2N
The VWF attaches to platelets normally, but it does not attach to another protein, factor VIII, which is also needed for blood to clot. The body then disposes of the factor VIII.

Type 3 Von Willebrand Disease

  • There is little or no VWF in the blood
  • Type 3 is the rarest type of VWD. About 3% of people have type 3

How VWD differs from hemophilia1,2,4

While both VWD and hemophilia are bleeding disorders, they are not the same disease, and there are important differences. Severity and bleeding location varies more in VWD patients than in those with hemophilia.1 While VWD affects men and women equally, hemophilia is more common in men.

How each disease affects patients differs as well:

VWD3,4 hemophilia3,4
Results in bleeding in mucous membranes and skin Results in bleeding in deep tissues
Symptoms are more likely to include bleeding in the lining of nose, intestines, uterus and vagina Symptoms are more likely to include bleeding in joints and within muscles
Caused by deficiency or defect of von Willebrand factor Caused by deficiency or defect of factor VIII or factor IX
Can be managed with von Willebrand factor Can be managed with factor VIII or factor IX
Women and men have an equal chance of inheriting VWD More men than women inherit hemophilia
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Watch Jacey and her mom talk about life with VWD

Keep exploring

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What are the symptoms of von Willebrand disease?

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Treatment options for von Willebrand disease

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Connect with a Community Education Specialist

  1. James PD, Connell NT, Ameer B, et al. ASH ISTH NHF WFH 2021 guidelines on the diagnosis of von Willebrand disease. Blood Adv. 2021;5(1):280-300. doi:10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003265
  2. Canadian Hemophilia Society. All about von Willebrand disease…for people with von Willebrand disease and their families. http://www.hemophilia.ca/files/AllAboutVWDRevisedEng.pdf. Accessed February 12, 2023.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is von Willebrand disease? http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/vwd/facts.html. Accessed February 16, 2023.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is hemophilia? https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/facts.html. Accessed February 16, 2023.