Factor VIII is a blood clotting factor also known as antihemophilic factor (AHF). It is a natural protein that occurs in the body to help form blood clots. This protein, alongside other substances in the body, stops the bleeding process that occurs when a person becomes injured. As such, it is an important protein to have in the body. If this blood clotting factor is missing or lacking, it can be potentially dangerous for the affected individual.
When a person lacks a sufficient amount of factor VIII, he or she is unable to efficiently form blood clots. Hemophilia A, also referred to as factor VIII deficiency, is a disorder caused by a lack of factor VIII. This disorder is characterized by prolonged bleeding and is usually inherited, although not always. While the gene for the disorder does tend to be inherited, sometimes a spontaneous mutation can occur and a person with no family history of hemophilia develops the condition. Males, more than females, tend to suffer from hemophilia, as the gene responsible for the disorder is found on the X chromosome, of which males have one and females have two.
The levels of factor VIII in a person’s body can vary and, depending on how much of the clotting factor is in his or her body, an individual can suffer from mild, moderate or severe hemophilia. In general, small cuts or other minor injuries do not usually require medical attention from a doctor, but deeper cuts or more traumatic injuries can be dangerous. This is because without a sufficient amount of factor VIII, the blood clotting process cannot efficiently take place and the injury might bleed for an extensive amount of time. The affected person risks losing a large amount of blood. These severe situations call for immediate medical attention.
A person who suffers from severe lack of factor VIII might need to receive factor treatments in which he or she gets regular replacement treatments of AHF medication. AHF medication comes from either donated plasma or as recombinant factor, which is man-made. Receiving factor treatments helps a person to control, prevent or treat bleeding episodes. During regular factor treatment, the medication is injected into the vein and the procedure takes about five to 10 minutes to complete. In rare instances, a person might not respond to factor treatment because he or she starts to develop antibodies to the medication.