High platelet count

November 12, 2012

High platelet count

Platelets are found in your bone marrow and a high count can mean you have thrombocytosis.

Platelets are a vital part of the body’s healing mechanism; they are produced in the bone marrow and are responsible for producing the clotting factors which prevent or slow blood flow in the event of any injury whether internally or externally.

What is a normal level and why it matters

For most people the average platelet count is between 150,000 and 450,000 per micro-liter of blood, anyone with a higher level is at risk of unwanted and unwarranted blood clotting which can be extremely problematic if untreated. An abnormally high platelet count is referred to as thrombocytosis.

Types of thrombocytosis

A high platelet count occurs when the bone marrow produces more platelets than the body requires. There are two varieties -

Essential thrombocytosis is a genetic abnormality resulting in misshapen platelets. Whilst rarely producing symptoms this type of high platelet count can cause blood clots which result in heart attacks, stroke, or deep vein thrombosis.

Reactive thrombocytosis, as the name implies, a reaction to something such as the presence of cancer, an injury or inflammation. Symptoms for this kind of high platelet count include nose bleeds, unexpected and unexplained bruising, or blood in the stools. Dangerous clots may also develop.

Possible causes

Underlying health issues which may cause a high platelet count include -

  • Cancer

  • Infection

  • Anemia

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases

  • Polycythernia vera

Detection

Due to the absence of symptoms or clear warning signs it is difficult to diagnose a high platelet count without carrying out a full blood test – sometimes several blood tests may be required. Once this is done doctors can then look at the underlying causes and decide on a treatment program. The doctor will take a full medical history of the patient as well as a family history in order to establish any possible link with the high platelet count.

Treatment

The treatments for the two varieties of thrombocytosis are different, but, in addition to the specific treatments patients should also consider simple lifestyle changes such as in improved diet, increased exercise and stopping smoking. As well as having regular check-ups and blood tests with the medical practitioner.

Treatments for reactive thrombocytosis

Specialized drugs

  • Antibiotics

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Intensive medical treatment

Treatment for essential thrombocytosis

  • Daily low dose of aspirin

Sooner the better

If for any reason you suspect you may have a high platelet count it is important to schedule a blood test and an appointment with your medical practitioner as soon as possible in order to find and treat the condition promptly.

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