Hemophilia A, also known as classic hemophilia or factor VIII deficiency, is a blood disorder that mostly affects males, but may strike a person of any age or race. Depending on the extent of blood clotting, an individual is categorized as having a mild, moderate, or severe form of hemophilia. While a person with hemophilia A often suffers from bruising, as well as spontaneous and prolonged bleeding, an individual typically can live a productive life. Treatment often requires a transfusion of human or man-made plasma.
If injured, a person with hemophilia typically will bleed longer than a person without the condition. An individual with hemophilia A may experience bleeding that runs into his joints, and he may also find blood in his urine or stool. Also, a person may suffer from hemorrhaging in the gastrointestinal or urinary tract. More than half of patients diagnosed with hemophilia have the severe form of the disorder. An individual with severe hemophilia has less than one percent of the normal clotting factor in his blood, and will often suffer from incidents of spontaneous bleeding.
About 15 percent of those with hemophilia suffer from the moderate form of the condition. These people have one to five percent of the normal clotting factor found in their blood. Individuals with moderate hemophilia may experience occasional episodes of spontaneous bleeding.
In approximately 25 percent of hemophilia cases, individuals will be diagnosed with the mild form of the disorder. Usually, a person with mild hemophilia will be unaware he has a blood disorder until he experiences some type of injury. A woman with mild hemophilia may suffer from heavy menstrual periods or experience hemorrhaging after giving birth.
Males are more prone to hemophilia A because the condition is typically caused by a defective gene found on the X chromosome. Since a male only has a single X chromosome, if the factor VIII gene is defective on the X chromosome, he will be born with hemophilia A. Females are born with two X chromosomes, so if they inherit a defective X chromosome, the other chromosome can compensate.
Typically, treatment for hemophilia A entails restoring the absent clotting factor. The level of factor VIII needed depends on the level of bleeding and the patient’s height and weight. A person with mild hemophilia may receive a non-blood product called desmopressin that aids the body to discharge levels of factor VIII found in the lining of his blood vessels. For most of his life, a person with hemophilia A will be required to be treated regularly by a hematologist associated with a hemophilia treatment center.