There now is a registry of patients with the congenital coagulation disorder called von Willebrand's disease, particularly the more severe forms.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) officials in Bethesda, Md, say that when the needed technology becomes available—probably in the form of refinements in ultrasound equipment and techniques—some of these patients probably will be asked to take part in prospective studies on the development of atherosclerosis.
One hypothesis is that at least the severe forms of von Willebrand's disease (named for the Finnish physician who first reported it in 1926) may protect against atherosclerosis. If ultrasound monitoring lives up to expectations, it may be possible to study the blood vessels of such patients noninvasively to see if atherosclerotic plaque forms.
According to the NHLBI, 344 patients on the list are classified as having severe von Willebrand's disease, while 115 have less serious forms. Harvey J. Weiss, MD, professor