Haemophilia (bleeding) conditions

Treating patients with inherited or acquired bleeding disorders

Information about your condition

Bleeding disorders are relatively rare genetic disorders characterised by increased or prolonged bleeding due to abnormal coagulation (the ability of the blood to clot). The cause is a decrease in amount or function of one of the 11 proteins in the blood, called clotting factors, that work together to make the blood clot.

  • Acquired haemophilia

    Acquired haemophilia is a bleeding disorder caused by the spontaneous development of an immune proteins (antibodies) which destroy the body’s clotting factors in individuals without any previous clotting disorders.

    Visit the Novo Nordisk website for more information about acquired haemophilia.

  • Carriers and females with haemophilia

    Haemophilia is often considered a disease which primarily affects men because of how it is inherited. However, females can be carriers of haemophilia A and B as well. In a small number of women who are carriers, they may have bleeding symptoms. Women can also be affected by other bleeding disorders such as von Willenbrand disease, to an equal extent as men.

    Visit the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) website for more information.

  • Haemophilia A and B

    Haemophilia A is a bleeding disorder where a protein made by the body to help make blood clot is either partly or completely missing. Haemophilia A is a genetic condition and in around two thirds of cases there is a family history of haemophilia A. Haemophilia A mainly affects boys and men. Women can be ‘carriers’ of the affected gene and may experience symptoms. Although it is the most common type of haemophilia it is a rare condition, affecting about one in every 10,000 people.

    Haemophilia B is a genetic condition. Around two thirds have a family history of the disorder whilst in the rest it is a new case. Haemophilia B mainly affects boys and men; women can be ‘carriers’ of the affected gene and may experience symptoms. Only about 20% of people with haemophilia have haemophilia B, so it is a rare condition, affecting about one in every 50,000 people.

    Visit the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) website, for more information about haemophilia.

  • Mild haemophilia

    Patients can have different severities of haemophilia so will not always be affected by their condition in the same way. It is important that you understand the severity of your disease when discussing the management of your condition with your medical team.

    Visit the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) website for more information about the severity of haemophilia.

  • Platelet disorders

    Platelets are small fragments of cells that circulate in the blood. They are involved in forming blood clots and the repair of damaged blood vessels. When a blood vessel is injured, platelets stick to the damaged area and spread along the surface to stop the bleeding. Platelet function disorders are conditions in which platelets don’t work the way they should, resulting in a tendency to bleed or bruise. Platelets have many roles in blood clotting and different platelet function disorders can lead to bleeding disorders of differing degrees of severity.

    Visit the the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) website for more information.

  • Rare clotting disorders

    All bleeding disorders result from defects in the body’s clotting system and are relatively rare. Most of these bleeding disorders occur as a result of a deficiency in a particular clotting factor. The most common conditions result from deficiencies in factor VIII (eight) or IX (nine).  Conditions that are caused by deficiencies in other clotting factors are described as rare clotting disorders.

    Visit the the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) website for more information.

  • Von Willebrand disease

    Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a bleeding disorder which affects the blood’s ability to clot. Patients with low levels of VWF in their blood, or if their VWF doesn’t work very well, may result in more bleeding than in the average person. VWD affects both men and women equally, though women may experience more problems linked to periods, pregnancy and childbirth. If your blood doesn’t clot properly, you can have bleeding symptoms such as easy bruising, nosebleeds, and heavy periods. It may also be hard to stop bleeding after injury or surgery. VWD is the most common type of bleeding disorder.

    VWD is usually inherited; passed from parents to their children through their genes, especially in severe cases. You can’t ‘catch’ it from someone else, but, very rarely, it’s possible to get the disorder as a result of another medical condition.

    Visit the NHS website and the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) website, for more information about von Willebrand disease.

 

 

 

 

Resources

NHS website

The World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH)

The Haemophilia Society

Living with Hemophilia

Novo Nordisk website

Visit our information resources page for more information about living with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

Emergency and out-of-hours services

If you have an urgent clinical problem outside of normal clinical hours (9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday), please call the hospital switchboard on 020 7188 7188 and ask for the on-call haematology registrar.