How Frequently Does Cardiovascular Disease Affect Hemophilia Patients?

According to a story from the National Hemophilia Foundation, a recent study examined the prevalence and impact of cardiovascular disease among hemophilia patients. It is widely assumed that people with the disease are better protected from cardiovascular illness, but there is not a whole lot of solid data to back up this assertion. The study enrolled patients from a total of 19 different treatment centers across the US and involved a total of 200 patients that had moderate to severe hemophilia.
Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder that is characterized by a reduction in the ability of an affected person to make blood clots, which are an essential component of wound healing. People with hemophilia will generally bleed for a longer period of time after an injury in comparison to an unaffected person. Other symptoms include bruising easily and an increased risk of internal bleeding in the joints and brain. Bleeding in the joints can lead to permanent damage and brain bleeding can cause a long term headaches, seizures, or loss of consciousness. Hemophilia is caused by a genetic mutation that causes a deficiency in clotting factors; in hemophilia A, the missing factor is factor VIII, and in hemophilia B, the missing factor is factor IX. Treatment involves supplementing the missing factors, but some patients develop antibodies to the factors, which complicates treatment. To learn more about hemophilia, click here.

In the study, the researchers evaluated a variety of cardiovascular conditions and events, such as angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart), heart attacks, strokes, or a medical history of cardiovascular treatments or procedures. Patients in the study ranged from 54 to 73 years of age. Of the 200 hemophilia patients evaluated in the study, 30 met the criteria for having cardiovascular disease. This overall rate amounts to 15 percent compared to 25 percent for comparison data drawn from US Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities group.

The study appears to confirm that lowered clotting factors could have a protective role for hemophilia patients. With that said, patients are far from immune from cardiovascular illness, and potential risk factors such as high blood pressure were still common among patients. Patients should still take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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