Platelet or blood platelet function

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Platelets, also known as platelets, are blood cells responsible for blood clotting. If the wall of the blood vessels is damaged, platelets rush into the injury and form a plug or clot to stop the bleeding. If your platelet count is low (a condition called thrombocytopenia), your risk of prolonged or uncontrolled bleeding increases. When there are too many platelets in the blood (a condition called thrombocytosis), abnormal blood clots can occur, which can be serious and life-threatening.

Your healthcare provider can help you estimate your platelet count using a complete blood count .

A thrombotic root on a platelet means a clot. You will see that it is used for diseases and conditions that affect platelets and blood clotting.

Andrew Brooks / Getty Images

What platelets do

Platelets are one of three types of blood cells (in addition to red blood cells and white blood cells) that originate in the bone marrow from cells known as megakaryocytes.

The process by which platelets form a clot is called adhesion . For example , if you accidentally cut your finger and break a blood vessel, it will bleed. To stop the bleeding, platelets in the ruptured vessel stick to the injury site and send chemical signals for additional help.

More platelets respond to the bell and begin to bond with each other, forming a plug in a process called aggregation . Once a plug or clot forms in the wall of a blood vessel, a coagulation ( clotting ) cascade is activated, which then adds fibrin (a structural protein) to the clot to bind it together. Fibrin is responsible for the scab, which can be seen at the site of the cut.

Aspirin and some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs suppress normal platelet function, so you may be asked to stop using them for a time before your surgery or procedure.

Tests and your platelets

An overview of the number, size, and status of platelets is included in a complete blood count (CBC), a standard panel of laboratory blood tests that looks at the composition and chemistry of the blood.

Specific laboratory markers related to platelets are as follows:

Platelet count (PLT)

However, this is the actual number of platelets you have (per microliter of blood).

  • Low range: less than 150,000 platelets per microliter
  • Normal range: 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter .
  • Increased range: 500,000 to 1,000,000 platelets per microliter.

If the platelet count falls below 50,000, the bleeding may increase.

Platelet count is an important metric that your healthcare provider should know before and after surgery to predict any possible bleeding and clotting problems. It is also an important marker during chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as these treatments can suppress platelet production in the bone marrow.

Mean platelet volume (MPV)

The mean platelet volume (MPV) is the mean platelet size. Younger platelets are larger than older ones, so a higher number means you are producing and releasing them rapidly, while a lower number means impaired production in the bone marrow.

Platelets live in the bloodstream for eight to 10 days .

Platelet Distribution Width (PDW)

PDW is a change in platelet size that can indicate conditions that affect platelets.

Platelet function tests may also be done if there are symptoms or the possibility of excessive bleeding, and to monitor antiplatelet medications.

Causes of low platelet count

If your body doesn't have enough platelets in your bloodstream, you can develop a condition called thrombocytopenia .

The following factors can contribute to a decrease in your platelet count :

  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy: These treatments suppress or destroy hematopoietic cells (megakaryocytes) in the bone marrow, reducing platelet production.
  • Viral infections: Hepatitis C or HIV infections can affect the bone marrow and affect platelet production.
  • Autoimmune conditions like lupus or immune thrombocytopenic purpura
  • Pregnancy: Hemolysis, increased liver enzymes, low platelet syndrome, better known as HELLP, during pregnancy is a variant of pre-eclampsia and can lead to the destruction of blood cells and platelets.
  • Medications: Blood thinners such as warfarin and heparin can inhibit platelet production.

Other examples of conditions that can cause thrombocytopenia include the presence of a mechanical heart valve, antibodies to heparin, chronic alcohol abuse, liver disease, severe sepsis, and toxic effects.

Platelet counts below 20,000 per microliter are life threatening, as spontaneous bleeding can occur that is difficult to stop. At this level, you may be given a platelet transfusion.

Causes of high platelet count

If too many platelets circulate in the body, a condition called thrombocytosis can develop.

The following factors can contribute to a high platelet count :

  • Primary bone marrow disease: Essential thrombocytosis is a condition in which megakaryocytes in the bone marrow make too many platelets, increasing the risk of blood clots.
  • Chronic inflammation in the body – Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can lead to an increase in platelet count, as high levels of inflammation can cause the bone marrow to produce more blood cells targets and platelets to combat. cell damage. …
  • Infection – Bone marrow cells increase the production of white blood cells and platelets, which helps fight infection by causing an increase in the platelet count.
  • Iron deficiency anemia: Reactive or secondary thrombocytosis can occur when the body breaks down red blood cells and bone marrow cells are overproduced to meet needs.
  • Spleen Removal – Up to one third of platelets are stored in the spleen at any one time, so removing this organ will increase the concentration of platelets in the bloodstream. However, this is usually a temporary condition.
  • Cancer: Elevated platelet counts are also seen in cancer, especially cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as lymphoma, lung, ovarian, and breast cancer. It is believed to be due to cancer-related inflammation that stimulates the production of platelets in the bone marrow.

Also, a temporary increase in platelet count can occur after major surgery or injury.

Get the word of drug information

Platelets are tiny cells that have a very important job in the body: to stop bleeding. There is a wide range of normal platelet counts, but it is also important to be aware of the extremes, especially if you are planning surgery or undergoing another procedure that may require bleeding and clotting. If you have very low or very high platelet counts, be sure to talk to your doctor about a safe course of action.

Frequently asked questions

  • Treatment is only necessary if the thrombocytopenia is causing health problems. Treatment may include blood transfusion, which is a temporary solution; splenectomy; and medications, which may include steroids and immunoglobulins.

  • Many people who have a high platelet count or thrombocytosis do not need treatment, but can be monitored regularly by your healthcare provider. If symptoms are troublesome, treatment may include daily low doses of aspirin to prevent blood clots, medications that reduce platelet production, and treat the underlying cause of the condition.

  • Under a microscope, platelets in an inactive state look like small plaques. When activated, they look like octopuses as they grow tiny tentacles.

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