Hemophilia is a rare hereditary blood disease, in which the blood doesn’t clot enough and bleedings persist longed than normal. In this condition, there is a shortage of one of the blood clotting factors, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. Patients should therefore be protected from injuries as much as possible.
Hemophilia is caused by a defect in the genetic material. As a result, too little blood clotting factor is produced in the body. The defect is transferred according to an X-
There are two types of hemophilia. In case of hemophilia A, the patient has insufficient factor VIII. When there is too little factor IX, it’s called hemophilia B. The signs and symptoms of hemophilia are:
The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the hemophilia:
The diagnosis of hemophilia is made based on the symptoms and physical examination. To confirm the diagnosis, blood tests and genetic examination are done. In doing so, the blood clotting factors VIII and IX are examined. Hemophilia can also be determined prior to birth with prenatal diagnosis. In babies with parents who have the disease or carry it with them, blood is taken immediately after birth for examination.
Patients with hemophilia are treated in a hemophilia treatment center. In mild and moderate forms of hemophilia, patients are mainly treated when there seems to be a bleeding or an increased risk of it. Patients with severe hemophilia are preventively treated by regularly administering additional blood clotting factor VIII or IX (substitution therapy or replacement therapy). The blood clotting factor is then given several times a week via an infusion. Patients and their relatives can learn how to do this for themselves at home. The substitution therapy aims to prevent problems.
In addition to the substitution therapy, a patient may be treated with medication. The choice and dosage of these drugs will depend on the severity of the condition. Also desmopressin may be given. This is a hormone that stimulates the release of blood clotting factor IX, stored in the body. Antifibrinolytic drugs may also be given to stop bleeding faster.
Hemophilia is hereditary and can therefore hardly be prevented. People who have the condition in the family and who are considering having children, can be offered genetic counselling. With timely and proper treatment and care, hemophilia patients have a normal life expectancy. Patients with severe hemophilia have the greatest burden of the disease. They often have spontaneous bleeding in muscles and/or joints. This eventually leads to serious joint damage and disability.
Hemophilia A is most common (80%).