Von Willebrand Disease in the elderly: clinical perspectives
Department of Hematology, Shire, Lexington, MA, USA
Abstract: Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder that affects up to 1% of the population. In most cases, VWD results from a mutation in the von Willebrand Factor (VWF) gene, which alters the amount and function of VWF, a key glycoprotein in both primary and secondary hemostasis. A comprehensive analysis of patients with VWD should include VWF activity, antigen levels, platelet function, and a careful bleeding history. Treatment options include antifibrinolytics, desmopressin, and VWF replacement therapy. VWF levels fluctuate due to age, stress, environmental exposures, and pharmacologic treatment. Treatment guidelines exist to treat and prevent bleeding for patients undergoing surgery and medical procedures, but often these must be reevaluated in the setting of age-related comorbidities including cardiovascular events, venous thrombosis, and malignancy. In addition, many age-related complications are associated with a secondary acquired von Willebrand syndrome (AVWS), including malignancies, hypothyroidism, cardiovascular diseases, and cardiac replacement devices. The current literature is limited by a lack of older patients in clinical trials. Larger studies are needed to determine if age-related comorbidities affect VWD patients at different frequencies than the general elderly population. There is also a significant need for registry-based studies to evaluate many age-related comorbidities in VWD patients.
Keywords: von Willebrand disease, acquired von Willebrand syndrome, bleeding disorders, aging
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