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Platelet Disorders

Also called: Thrombocyte disorders

Summary

Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are small pieces of blood cells. They form in your bone marrow, a sponge-like tissue in your bones. Platelets play a major role in blood clotting. Normally, when one of your blood vessels is injured, you start to bleed. Your platelets will clot (clump together) to plug the hole in the blood vessel and stop the bleeding. You can have different problems with your platelets:

  • If your blood has a low number of platelets, it is called thrombocytopenia. This can put you at risk for mild to serious bleeding. The bleeding could be external or internal. There can be various causes. If the problem is mild, you may not need treatment. For more serious cases, you may need medicines or blood or platelet transfusions.
  • If your blood has too many platelets, you may have a higher risk of blood clots.
    • When the cause is not known, this is called thrombocythemia. It is rare. You may not need treatment if there are no signs or symptoms. In other cases, people who have it may need treatment with medicines or procedures.
    • If another disease or condition is causing the high platelet count, it is thrombocytosis. The treatment and outlook for thrombocytosis depends on what is causing it.
  • Another possible problem is that your platelets do not work as they should. For example, in von Willebrand Disease, your platelets cannot stick together or cannot attach to blood vessel walls. This can cause excessive bleeding. There are different types of in von Willebrand Disease; treatment depends on which type you have.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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