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Hemophilia and Inherited Bleeding Disorders

Hemophilia and alcohol

08/07/1998

Question:

My brother is a hemophiliac, factor eight deficiency. He is starting his sophomore year in college and I know from the stories he told about his freshmen year that he has become a social drinker. I don't think his drinking is a serious problem because he continues to get good grades. I was wondering, though, if alcohol has any adverse effects on hemophiliacs more than other individuals.

Answer:

There are some increased risks for a person with hemophilia who chooses to drink alcohol. The first has to do with blood clotting. Platelets are special blood cells which are necessary for the formation of blood clots. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause temporary changes in the blood platelets which can cause the person's blood to clot more slowly. This could increase the chances of bleeding for a person who's blood already clots more slowly than normal because of hemophilia. Drinking small to moderate amounts does not seem to have this affect.

A second risk has to do with the fact that more accidents tend to occur when people drink alcohol. A person with hemophilia would be at greater risk for serious injury from an accident because their blood does not clot normally.

Finally, there are risks related to the effect of alcohol on the liver. Many people with hemophilia who received blood clotting products before 1990 were infected with the hepatitis C virus. A person with hepatitis C who drinks alcohol significantly increases the risk for developing cirrhosis of the liver.

For more information:

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Response by:

Madeline Heffner, BSN, RN
Nurse Coord.
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati