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Contrary to the former belief that people with the inherited bleeding disorder Low Von Willebrand Factor only posed a mild risk for bleeding, a new Irish clinical study has found that people with the disorder have a marked increased bleeding tendency.

These findings from the LoVIC study, led by the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI, may alter doctors’ perception and management of this condition, particularly in relation to surgery or childbirth preparation.

The disorder is one of the most common inherited bleeding disorders globally; over one in 1,000 people estimated to be affected.

In Ireland there are just one in 10,000 people who have been registered with the disorder, which suggests that more people may not yet be diagnosed.

Conducted in the National Coagulation Centre, St. James’s Hospital, the study is the first of its kind to research the causes and management of bleeding experienced by people diagnosed with Low Von Willebrand Factor.

Dr Michelle Lavin, Clinical Research Fellow in St. James’s Hospital Dublin and the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI commented: “This study finally answers many of the questions about Low Von Willebrand Factor for patients and doctors both in Ireland and worldwide.

“Low Von Willebrand Factor was previously considered to cause only mild or no bleeding symptoms. We have conclusively shown that people with Low Von Willebrand Factor can experience serious bleeding, especially at surgery or childbirth. However, with targeted medications, we can effectively manage patients at these times to minimise bleeding risk”.

Recruitment for further research continues in the National Coagulation Centre and there are plans to extend enrollment to children next year through Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

The study, led by Professor James O’ Donnell, Director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI, and funded by the Health Research Board, is published in the current edition of the leading haematology scientific journal, ‘Blood’.