Because von Willebrand\’s Disease (vWD) is usually mild, many people do not experience any problems and the condition may be undiagnosed for a long time. Often, the first indication that there may be a problem with blood clotting comes after a minor operation, such as a tooth extraction. Once the problem is suspected, doctors can run tests to diagnose the disease.
Possible symptoms include:
- Frequent large bruises
- Frequent hard-to-stop nose bleeds
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Heavy bleeding after dental procedures or surgery
The tests consist of taking personal and family history of diseases from the patient, which may give clues to clotting problems in the past, or in relatives and some blood tests. These tests measure the time that blood takes to clot and the levels of clotting factors that are present and then compares them with those in people known not to have vWD.
The diagnosis may be complicated and take some time because many people with vWD have levels of clotting factors in their blood that are nearly as high as normal. Worrying about going to the hospital and having a blood test can also make these levels increase. Therefore, the tests may need to be carried out on more than one occasion. Diagnosis in one family member can often lead to the identification of the disease in other family members.
People with Type 1 or Type 2 vWD may not have day to day bleeding problems. Type 3 vWD can cause major bleeding problems in infants and children. Children with Type 3 vWD are usually diagnosed within the first year(s) of life.
If vWD is suspected, you can be tested at the National Coagulation Centre (NCC) at St. James\’s Hospital in Dublin. The centre can arrange tests to determine how long you bleed before your blood clots and blood tests to measure your level of von Willebrand factor. Your personal and family medical history will also be taken into consideration.
Contact Details for the National Coagulation Centre (NCC)
Phone: (01) 416 2141