Understanding Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders

Brothers Healthcare brings unmatched experience and expertise to the Hemophilia and bleeding disorder communities. Because we share personally in these life-long conditions, we connect with the patients we serve as we are bonded by blood. Our deep understanding of these conditions allows us to provide the level of care that other specialty pharmacies cannot.

What is Hemophilia?

For those just learning about this condition, Hemophilia is part of a general bleeding disorders category, describing a condition in which the blood does not properly form clots. Blood clotting is also known as coagulation. It is a complex process involving as many as 20 different plasma proteins, or blood clotting factors.

Normally, a complex chemical process occurs using these clotting factors to form a substance called fibrin that stops bleeding. When certain coagulation factors are deficient or missing, the process doesn’t work correctly.

What causes Bleeding Disorders? 

Some bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, are present at birth and are caused by rare inherited disorders. Others are developed during certain illnesses (such as vitamin K deficiency, severe liver disease), or treatments (such as use of anticoagulant drugs or prolonged use of antibiotics). There are many causes of bleeding disorders, including:

  • von Willebrand’s disease, which is an inherited blood disorder thought to affect between 1% and 2% of the population
  • Immune system-related diseases, such as allergic reactions to medications, or reactions to an infection
  • Cancer, such as leukemia, which is a blood cancer 
  • Liver disease
  • Bone marrow problems
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is a condition often associated with child bearing, cancer, or infection, in which the body’s clotting system functions abnormally
  • Pregnancy-associated eclampsia, also known as severe toxicity of pregnancy
  • Antibodies, a type of immune system protein, that destroy blood clotting factors
  • Medicines, such as aspirin, heparin, warfarin, and drugs used to break up blood clots
  • Congenital bleeding disorders are very rare, and with the exception of hemophilia and von Willebrand disease, education about them has not been a priority of the medical community. Most have only been discovered and described in the past few decades.

Von Willebrand Disease

Brothers Healthcare is committed to serving the bleeding disorders community. We recognize that the needs and experiences of VWD patients are different from someone with hemophilia or another bleeding disorder. That’s why our commitment is to provide you with relevant VWD resources, targeted education, and meaningful support networks. At Brothers Healthcare, we know the importance of connection because many of us are on this journey with you.

Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is the most common inherited bleeding disorder, much more prevalent than hemophilia or any other bleeding disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “VWD occurs with equal frequency among men and women, affecting up to 1% of the general population” (Nov. 17, 2016).

While Hemophilia A or B affect the quantity of clotting Factor VIII (8) or Factor IX (9) in the body, Von Willebrand Disease affects the quantity and/or quality of the Von Willebrand Factor (VWF). The purpose of the VWF is first to provide a bridge between the platelets and the bleed site and second to protect Factor VIII in the blood (learn more). There are three types of VWD and each type can vary in severity.

Type 1 – Lower quantity of VWD protein, 50-80% of normal. Mostly mild bleeding, although severe bleeds can happen. Type 1 VWD is most common. Approx. 75% of VWD patients have Type 1.

Type 2- The quality of VWD protein is affected as the proteins are not properly formed. There are 4 subtypes connected to which sections of the protein is mis-formed. Symptoms tend to be mild to moderate. About 20% of VWD patients have Type 2.

Type 3- Very low quantity of VWD, which also leads to very low levels of Factor VIII. Replacement of both proteins may be required for treatment.
Bleeding tends to be severe. This type affects about 5% of VWD patients (hemophilia.org).

For questions about Von Willebrand Disease education and support, please contact us by phone or email.

Giving Back

A vital part of our mission is our involvement in the communities we serve, and in the lives of the people that make up those communities. We participate in community and national events that matter to you. Facing medical conditions together makes us stronger!

Brothers Healthcare is proud to offer a scholarship award program for members of the bleeding disorders community. We are honored to help people with bleeding disorders achieve their educational goals.
Refer to the application below for details including eligibility and deadlines. Please send any scholarship questions to info@brothershealthcare.com.