Treatment of von Willebrand disease

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von Willebrand disease is the most frequent of inherited bleeding disorders (1:100 affected individuals in the general population). The aim of treatment is to correct the dual defects of haemostasis, i.e., abnormal coagulation expressed by low levels of factor VIII and abnormal platelet adhesion expressed by a prolonged bleeding time. There are two main options available for the management of von Willebrand disease: desmopressin and transfusion therapy with blood products. Desmopressin is the treatment of choice in patients with type 1 von Willebrand disease, who account for approximately 80% of cases. This pharmacological compound raises endogenous factor VIII and von Willebrand factors and thereby corrects the intrinsic coagulation defect and the prolonged bleeding time in most type 1 patients. In type 3 and in the majority of type 2 patients desmopressin is not effective, and it is necessary to resort to plasma concentrates containing factor VIII and von Willebrand factor. Treated with virucidal methods, these concentrates are effective and currently safe, but the bleeding time defect is not always corrected by them. Platelet concentrates or desmopressin can be used as adjunctive treatments when poor correction of the bleeding time after concentrates is associated with continued bleeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-664
Number of pages4
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Desmopressin
  • Factor VIII
  • Haemophilia
  • von Willebrand disease
  • von Willebrand factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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