platelet count

What is platelet count, and why is it important?


Platelets or platelet count are the smallest of all blood cells. They appear like plates when inactive and serve the purpose of preventing loss of blood through bleeding. Whenever blood vessels receive damage, they form a mesh around the injured part to create a blood clot. In doing so, they develop tentacles like an octopus. Hence, we can see how important they are for survival. 

Platelet count

Platelets have a lifespan of only 10 days. Hence, the bone marrow produces several millions of platelets every day to meet the required balance. The number of platelets in your blood matters the most, which we will see subsequently.

Platelet count is the number of platelets that are present in your blood. It can vary from individual to individual depending on age and sex. Females tend to have more platelets than other sexes, while their number tends to reduce as we age. The average healthy platelet count varies between 1.5 lakh platelets to 4.5 lakh platelets per microliter of blood. 

Maintaining a healthy platelet count is crucial for your life. You can get an overview of the number of platelets by having a Complete blood count test from your nearest pathological lab. Another prominent test is the MPV blood test, also known as mean platelet volume. It is often suggested when the professional suspects the onset of a blood disorder.

Health complications with excessive platelets

Excess of platelets, i.e., higher than 4.5 lakhs per microliters of blood, indicates a thrombocytosis, a medical complication that causes excessive blood clotting or bleeding in some. It can manifest in two variants-

  • Primary thrombocytosis – Also called essential thrombocytosis, is caused in the bone marrow. The platelet count increases due to abnormal activity of the bone marrow, the cause of it is still unknown. The treatment involves plateletpheresis, in which platelets are extricated of the bloodstream.
  • Secondary thrombocytosis: This condition occurs due to blood disorders or other secondary complications in the body. 
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Both the complications are characterized by random blood clots that appear on the arms, legs, or other body parts. The disease can be life-threatening since it can potentially cause heart attacks and strokes.

The dysfunction of platelets results in infrequent nosebleeds, bleeding of gums, and blood in the stool. Other symptoms involve headaches, dizziness, weakness, and numbness, along with tingling in hands and feet. 

Platelet count and heart diseases

Platelets are vital for healing injured body parts since they can detect the damages. However, a dysfunction can cause abnormal clotting within the blood vessels to disrupt blood flow and cause a heart attack or a brain stroke.

Connection with Diabetes

Researchers have shown that a person suffering from diabetes can have a lower platelet count, making them more vulnerable to dengue. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes has been found to cause excessive creation of platelets.

Other Health complications with inadequate platelets

When the platelet count falls below 1.5 lakhs, it results in a medical complication known as thrombocytopenia. This drop does not cause any severe complications. However, the diagnosis can signify several things, such as:

  • Blood cancer
  • Exposure to harmful drugs or chemicals
  • Dysfunction of bone marrow
  • Excessive exposure to substance abuse.
  • Damage in the Kidney

Why should you monitor your platelet count?

An abnormal platelet count can be indicative of the following conditions:

  • Anaemia: Only a low amount of haemoglobin is not responsible for anaemia. It can be caused due to low platelets too.
  • Cancer: Cancer in the lungs, breasts, ovaries, stomach, and a few other parts can be responsible for the depletion of platelets in the body. Hence, you should never ignore the poor results of an MPV blood test. 
  • Inflammatory disorders: Medical disorders, which cause inflammation in the body, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, cause a sudden surge in the number of platelets in the body as a result of the body’s inflammatory immune response.
  • Infections: Tuberculosis and Typhoid can disrupt the platelet count. 
  • Preeclampsia: It is a pregnancy-related complexity that commences after the 20th week. The condition reduces the platelet ratio of the body by increasing the number of other blood cells in the body. 
  • Marrow Hypoplasia: A low result of the MPV blood test can also point out marrow hypoplasia. In this condition, the blood cell production receives a severe blow.
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When to get a platelet count?

You must look out for the following symptoms to consult your doctor for the test:-

  • Blood in stools
  • Rise in blood loss during periods
  • Bleeding gums or nose bleeds
  • Blood in urine or pinkish urine
  • Fainting and dizziness

In a nutshell, the platelet count is an indicator of health and should never be neglected. The MPV blood test results are of paramount importance to ascertain the health complications occurring due to imbalance of platelets.

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