There are 7,700 people living with haemophilia A in the UK, where the blood doesn’t clot properly because the body can’t make a protein called ‘clotting factor VIII’.
The condition, which affects men more than women due to their genetic make-up, means that when a person cuts themselves their blood doesn’t clot properly, so the body bleeds for longer.
According to The Haemophilia Society, haemophilia A is a genetic condition and nearly everyone who has it was born with it. In around two thirds of cases there’s a family history of it.
The condition can range from mild to moderate to severe depending on the levels of clotting factor VIII in the blood.
Symptoms of haemophilia A can depend on how severe the condition is. The main sign is bleeding that doesn’t stop. Others include:
:: Nosebleeds that last a long time
:: Bleeding wounds that last a long time
:: Bleeding gums
:: Skin that bruises easily
:: Blood in your urine or stools
:: Pain, tingling and stiffness around joints, such as elbows, caused by bleeding inside the body. The joint may also become hot, swollen and tender.
Blood tests are often used to diagnose haemophilia A and the severity of it.
If there’s no family history of the condition, it’s usually diagnosed when a child begins to walk or crawl, according to the NHS, whereas mild haemophilia is often discovered later, usually after an injury or a dental or surgical procedure.
Unfortunately there’s no official cure for haemophilia. However groundbreaking gene therapy has moved scientists one step closer to a treatment which they believe could ‘cure’ patients with the condition.
A trial, which only required people to have a single treatment, effectively eradicated the disease as the participants began to show normal levels of the previously missing protein.
One patient, 29-year-old Jake Omer (pictured above), from Billericay, Essex, said: “The gene therapy has changed my life. I now have hope for my future.”
Clotting factor concentrate is currently used to treat the haemophilia. This is where bleeding is controlled or prevented by replacing the missing clotting factor in the blood. It’s often given intravenously (into a vein) using a needle.
“The level of factor VIII or factor IX is increased temporarily so infusions need to be repeated. For some minor bleeding episodes one infusion may be enough to stop bleeding,” reads The Haemophilia Society’s guidance leaflet.
“For more serious bleeding or where the first infusion has been delayed, treatment may be needed once or twice a day until the bleeding stops.”
The Haemophilia Society recommends managing joint bleeds with PRICE, an acronym to help with recovery and comfort:
:: Protection – try to keep the weight off the joint or muscle for a couple of days. If it’s the ankle or knee, try to use crutches.
:: Rest – stay off it or don’t use it. This helps with healing.
:: Ice – place ice on the joint for 15 minutes every two hours. This can help with pain and swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a tea towel or soft cloth so it doesn’t directly touch the skin.
:: Compression – use the right size of elasticated bandage if this feels comfortable. It can help reduce swelling.
:: Elevation – raise and support the affected arm or leg to reduce swelling.