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Hemophilia

Hemophilia refers to a group of bleeding disorders in which blooding takes a long time.

Some types of disorder include:

  • Hemophilia A
  • Hemophilia B
  • Von Willebrand disease

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

When you bleed, the body sends out a special protein to help the blood clot. There is a higher risk of bleeding when one or more of these clotting factors are missing.

Hemophilia is caused by a lack of clotting factor VIII or IX in the blood. In most cases, hemophilia is passed down through families (inherited). Most of the time, it is passed to male children.

Symptoms

The main symptom of hemophilia is bleeding. Mild cases may not be detected until until later in life, after excessive bleeding following surgery or an injury.

In the worst cases, bleeding occurs for no reason. Internal bleeding may occur anywhere and bleeding into joints is common.

Signs and tests

Most often, hemophilia is diagnosed after a person has an abnormal bleeding episode Tests can also be done to detect the problem when other family members have the condition.

Treatment

The most common treatment is to replace the missing clotting factor in the blood through a vein (intravenous infusions).

You will need extra care during surgery if you have a bleeding disorder. Therefore, it is important to get a diagnosis. It will also help you to warn family members who might be affected.

Support Groups

Joining a support group where members share common issues can relieve the stress of a chronic disease.

Expectations (prognosis)

Many people with hemophilia are able to do most normal activities. However, some people have major bleeding events, The most common of these is bleeding into the spaces around the joints.

A small number of people with hemophilia may die from severe bleeding.

References

Kessler C. Hemorrhagic disorders: Coagulation factor deficiencies. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 180.

Ragni MV, Kessler CM, Lozier JN. Clinical aspects and therapy for hemophilia. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Shattil SJ, et al, eds. Hoffman Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier;2008:chap 2005.

Updated: 3/3/2013

Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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