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Just Heavy Menses or Something More? Raising Awareness of von Willebrand Disease

Weiss, Josie A. PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: June 2012 - Volume 112 - Issue 6 - p 38–44
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000415122.54111.f4
Feature Articles

Overview: Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder, with an estimated prevalence of up to 1.3% of the U.S. population, or 4 million Americans. It's caused by a deficiency of or defects in von Willebrand factor, a protein necessary for blood to clot. Many nurses and other health care providers, as well as patients, are unaware of the disorder, its symptoms, and its associated risks. Although the disorder occurs equally in males and females, it can be more troublesome in females. Heavy menses beginning at menarche is one of the most common presentations, but because the disorder is inherited and other family members may have similarly heavy menses, the assumption may be that this is normal. This article describes von Willebrand disease and its three types, explains how to recognize and investigate suggestive symptoms, and outlines management strategies.

This article describes von Willebrand disease and its three types, explains how to recognize and investigate suggestive symptoms, and outlines management strategies.

Josie A. Weiss is an associate professor at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. She participated in an American Academy of Nurse Practitioners educational task force on von Willebrand disease that was partially funded by CSL Behring. Contact author: jweiss21@fau.edu. The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.