What is hemophilia A?
Hemophilia A is a genetic bleeding disorder caused by a change in a gene on the X chromosome called F8. This causes a lack or shortage of the factor VIII (FVIII) protein in their blood that is supposed to help form clots to stop bleeding in response to an injury. People who lack this protein often bleed longer than others and require medicine to stop bleeding. They may have frequent nosebleeds and can have internal bleeding, or bleeding inside their body, without any kind of injury. They also tend to have bleeding in their joints and muscles. People with a severe type of hemophilia A have more bleeding symptoms than people with a mild type. You can read more about the signs and symptoms of hemophilia A here: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hemophilia/signs
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Are there other names for hemophilia A?
Hemophilia A is also known as factor VIII deficiency because those with hemophilia A have a deficiency, a lack or shortage, of this protein in their blood. Hemophilia A can also be confused with hemophilia B, a more rare type of hemophilia. They both have similar symptoms, but are due to changes in different genes and result in different protein deficiencies. Hemophilia A is also known as Classical Hemophilia.
Why do people with hemophilia A bleed?
People with hemophilia A bleed because they lack or have a shortage of factor VIII (FVIII). FVIII is a protein in our blood that is supposed to help us stop bleeding when we get hurt. Blood travels through the body through blood vessels. When blood vessels are damaged during an injury, we have many proteins in our blood that work together to form a sticky substance called a clot to stop blood from leaking. FVIII is one of those proteins that has an important job in forming clots. People who don't have as much FVIII in their blood have a difficult time forming clots and keep bleeding when they aren’t supposed to. This is why people with hemophilia A bleed for a long time unless they get medication to stop the bleeding. Some people with severe hemophilia A take medication prophylactically, or before they get injured. This gives them a boost of FVIII in their blood so if they get injured, they have some FVIII to form clots. To learn more about blood clots, visit this site: http://www.wfh.org/en/page.aspx?pid=635
How many people have hemophilia A?
Around 1 out of 5,000 boys in the United States are born with hemophilia A according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is about 400 babies a year affected by hemophilia A. Around 20,000 people are living with hemophilia in the US today. About half of people with hemophilia A have a severe type of the disease. All ethnicities and racial groups are affected equally by hemophilia. To learn more about how common hemophilia A is, follow this link: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/data.html
Are there any other diseases that look a lot like hemophilia A?
There are many different diseases that may look like hemophilia A. In particular, hemophilia B has similar health problems and symptoms. There are also many other genetic bleeding disorders like Von Willebrand Disease that are associated with severe bleeding and easy bruising. Beyond genetic conditions, acquired hemophilia is an autoimmune disorder also characterized by bleeding. Autoimmune disorders happen when the body's immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. In acquired hemophilia, the body's cells attack the clotting factors. If you experience easy bleeding and easy bruising, talk to your doctor about possible causes.
What is the most important thing I should know about hemophilia A?
Early treatment is key to success. If you or your child has hemophilia A, you should be aware of the earliest signs of bleeding. Feelings of pain, tingling or warmth may mean that bleeding is occurring on the inside of your body. Bleeding on the inside is just as serious as bleeding on the outside, even if you can't see it. The earlier you treat, the less likely there will be permanent damage. Talk to your doctor or Hemophilia Treatment Center about the earliest signs of bleeding and the importance of early treatment and follow up.