5 Tips for Living Well With von Willebrand Disease

von willebrand disease tipsVon Willebrand disease (VWD) is the most common bleeding disorder in the United States, found in up to 1 percent of the population. VWD isn't curable, but most cases are mild and may only require treatment if you have surgery, dental procedures or an accident. Women may also experience heavy bleeding during menstrual periods or childbirth. If your case is more serious, your health care professional can suggest medications and treatments. Here are five tips to help you manage this disorder and ensure a full and rewarding life.

  1. Avoid medicines that affect blood clotting. Always check with your doctor before taking any medicines, but especially over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs).
  2. Share the diagnosis. Tell your doctor, dentist and pharmacist that you have VWD. Consider telling friends, colleagues, gym trainers and sports coaches about your condition. Such knowledge will allow them to act quickly if you get injured.
  3. Wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace. If you have a more severe form of VWD, this is important. In case of accident or injury, the ID bracelet can provide valuable information for your health care team.
  4. Stay physically active and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise helps keep you flexible and prevents damage to muscles and joints. Safe physical activities include swimming, biking and walking. Avoid contact sports like football, hockey and wrestling. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  5. Talk to specialists before pregnancy. Pregnancy can prove challenging for women with VWD because you run an increased risk of bleeding problems during delivery and for an extended time after it. However, there are ways to lower the risk of such complications. If you have VWD and are considering having a child, it's a good idea to talk with a hematologist and an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies before you become pregnant.

For more information on von Willebrand disease, visit www.HealthyWomen.org.

This resource was developed with the support of CSL Behring.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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