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What Is Thrombocytosis?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2014
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Thrombocytosis is a health condition where the body produces too many platelets in the blood. An individual can develop either primary thrombocytosis, where the condition has no known cause, or secondary thrombocytosis, where the condition develops as a result of another health issue. Health conditions that can cause secondary thrombocytosis include hemolytic anemia, cancer, inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack, infection, surgery, kidney disorders, or allergic reactions. Some medications can also cause secondary thrombocytosis, including tretinoin, vincristine, and epinephrine.

Individuals who develop this condition often experience no symptoms, and the illness is diagnosed during a routine blood test. For those who do experience symptoms, they include numbness in the hands or feet, headaches, chest pain, weakness, changes in vision, fainting, bleeding from the nose, gums, mouth, or digestive tract, and bruising.

The addition of too many platelets in the blood can create problems because of the function of platelets in the body. Blood platelets are the portion of blood responsible for sticking together to form clots when an injury occurs. An overabundance of platelets can lead to problems with clotting in the body. The most serious symptom of this disease is the development of unusual clotting, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

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A patient who experiences symptoms of thrombocytosis, or shows elevated platelet counts in a routine blood test, will undergo a procedure known as bone marrow aspiration. In this process, the healthcare provider will remove and examine a bone marrow sample. If the patient does not have any symptoms of thrombocytosis, his healthcare provider will monitor his condition, but no treatment is necessary.

For those patients who are experiencing symptoms related to their condition, there are a variety of medical treatments available. Aspirin is used to prevent clots from forming. Medications such as anagrelide are used to slow the production of platelets by the bone marrow. In individuals with severe cases of thrombocytosis, a procedure known as platelet pheresis is performed. In platelet pheresis, a special machine is used to draw blood from the body. The machine filters out excess platelets, and the other components of the blood are returned to the body.

Long term struggles with this condition can lead to a rare condition known as myelofibrosis. In this condition, the bone marrow is eventually replaced with scar tissue. Myelofibrosis causes symptoms such as anemia, fatigue, weakness, and enlargement of the spleen and liver. Treatment for myelofibrosis typically calls for treatment of the individual symptoms the patient is experiencing.

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anon942196
Post 2

Yes, ASA does help but close monitoring is required. Same as plasma pheresis, but this time it is platelet pheresis which is done.

jliberty
Post 1

I recently had a stroke (literally out of nowhere!) at the age of 37 back in Oct. My blood levels are all wacky but INR is fine. My internist has referred me onto a Hematologist/chemo guy. The results came back that everything: WBC, RBC and platelets are all extremely elevated. He suggested we do a bone marrow test but specifically stated it would only be lab work. Can they do it this way?

Also, it was stated that prednisone can elevate? I have been on low dose (10mg) for about a month. He did mention thrombocytosis. If it is and I'm already on a low dose of aspirin - would they just increase that (least critically speaking)?

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