It is considered normal if the blood platelet count in our body should be anywhere between 1,50,000 to 4,50,000 / microliter of blood. If during a blood test analysis there is a fluctuation in the platelet number, it becomes necessary to probe the cause for the change. According to medical terminology, high blood platelet count is referred to as thrombocytosis and low blood platelet count is referred to as thrombocytopenia. But so as to understand the significance of the blood platelet count variation, it is important to know what blood platelets are and how do they contribute the smooth functioning of our body.
The major components of blood are white blood cells, blood platelets, red blood cells and blood plasma. Platelets are also medically termed as thrombocytes and look like small disks. These are highly specialized blood cells or cell fragments that arise from cytoplasm belonging to megakaryocyte. These megakaryocytes come from pluripotent stem cells located inside the bone marrow. Blood platelets do not display any specific nucleus and do not contain DNA and hemoglobin. But certain chemicals are present inside them that contribute in the coagulation of blood. Hence the main function of blood platelets is to prevent loss of blood during injuries by coagulating blood fast.
The condition of thrombocytosis or high blood platelet count is further divided into primary thrombocytosis and reactive thrombocytosis. When the stem cells inside the bone marrow become faulty they start producing platelets in excess due to which a condition called primary thrombocytosis is caused. One example of this condition is Polycythemia vera in which the blood platelets increase rapidly. In this condition both the white and red blood cells are produced in excess. This can further lead to myeloproliferative disorders - a disorder that belongs to the class of blood cancer. Doctors haven't been able to identify the specific cause for this condition but some scientists believe genetics to be the cause. Sometimes elevation in platelets may also indicate abnormalities present in the blood cell structure. In case of secondary thrombocytosis, the presence of high blood platelets indicates the occurrence of infection which can be due to use of particular drug or even surgery. Some of the other reasons which can cause elevation in blood platelets are connective tissue disorders, hemolytic anemia, kidney disorders, inflammatory or infectious diseases, spleen removal, heart attack, pancreatitis or profuse bleeding.
The main function of platelets is blood coagulation and hence when they are produced in excess they start forming blood clots in blood vessels. Due to this the flow of blood to the various body parts gets disturbed causing serious health problems. Some of the common symptoms caused by elevation of blood platelets are tingling sensation, bruising, weakness, dizziness and headaches. Many times, heart attack or enlargement of spleen can also occur. If the presence of blood platelets in excess is due to another reason other than the bone marrow disorder, then treating that problem can help lowering the blood platelets to normal count.
The treatment of thrombocytosis depends solely on the cause. First of all, doctors advise blood smear test and routine blood tests so as to examine the count of platelets and their structure. Doing a bone marrow aspiration or biopsy and genetic testing is generally recommended. The treatment is concentrated towards treating the underlying cause that has caused the abnormal production of platelets. In case of enhanced viscosity of blood, the doctor may advise blood thinning medicines. If the disorder is from the bone marrow then drugs will be recommended to control and cure this disorder so that overproduction is checked and the platelet count comes back to normal.