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This website is intended for carers and patients living with haemophilia.
What is prophylaxis?
Regular treatment to prevent bleeds is called prophylaxis. Prophylaxis treatment for someone with haemophilia (usually three times a week) helps the blood to clot and minimises the likelihood of long-term joint damage.
It is well recognised that people with moderate haemophilia rarely have spontaneous bleeds. The principle behind giving prophylaxis is to effectively convert a patient with severe haemophilia to moderate haemophilia by giving factor on a regular basis.
Prophylaxis is a very important development in the lives of people with haemophilia. If a person has severe haemophilia and experiences frequent bleeds into joints, long-term damage such as arthritis can occur and that joint can become what is known as a target joint.
What are the advantages?
As well as helping the joints, preventative injections can mean that your life is less disrupted by haemophilia, enabling you to study or work with less worry. In theory this may mean that you can have a more normally active lifestyle, particularly if you build the treatment regimen around your sporting activities. This helps ensure that you have high enough factor levels to participate in activities that might have been off limits without the clotting factor boost a treatment can give. Although regular exercise is important you should discuss your choice of sport with your haemophilia centre before you start. Prophylaxis treatment may also mean fewer visits to a Haemophilia Centre for treatment.
Are there any drawbacks to prophylaxis?
Prophylaxis therapy involves the regular administration of clotting factor and therefore requires a regular time commitment from the person with haemophilia and, if required, their carer(s).
There are generally two different types of prophylaxis regimes that you can be put on by your haemophilia team.
These are called primary prophylaxis and secondary prophylaxis.
Primary prophylaxis is when regular continuous treatment is started before the age of two years, or after the first joint bleed has occurred.
Secondary prophylaxis is when regular continuous treatment is started after two or more joint bleeds or after the age of two years.