The good news is that, these days, most people with haemophilia can expect to live long and active lives as a result of advances in treatment over the last 40 years. While in the past, many people would have been expected to die as a result of their condition, missing clotting factor associated with haemophilia can now be replaced, using products isolated from the blood of healthy donors or generated using genetic engineering techniques.
Types of treatment for haemophilia
Clotting factor replacement therapy
The cornerstone of treatment for haemophilia A and B is clotting factor replacement therapy. Clotting factor is either made from the plasma of donated blood (known as ‘plasma-derived clotting factor’) or generated artificially using genetic engineering techniques (known as ‘recombinant clotting factor’). The majority of people with haemophilia now receive treatment with recombinant clotting factor.
Therapy can be given in two ways:
- On demand i.e. treatment is given when bleeding occurs (e.g. after an injury).
- Prophylaxis i.e. treatment is given on a regular or intermittent basis to prevent bleeding before it begins.
Desmopressin is a medication that is sometimes used to treat people with mild or sometimes moderate haemophilia A. It works by encouraging the body to release more of its own factor VIII. However, it is not suitable for severe forms of the condition or for people with haemophilia B.
‘RICE’ (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a simple treatment approach recommended for joint bleeds. RICE can help to reduce swelling and tissue damage when used in combination with clotting factor concentrates.
Other treatments may also be recommended depending on the severity of your condition and on specific medical issues that occur. This may include pain relief and/or physiotherapy and massage to maintain and improve mobility.
It is likely that you will meet a range of different healthcare professionals along the way, who will be involved in your care, such as haematologists, specialist nurses, physiotherapists, orthopaedic surgeons and pharmacists.