Platelet Count

Overview:

Platelets are the cells that circulate within our blood and bind together when they recognize damaged blood vessels. When you get a cut, for example, the platelets bind to the site of the damaged vessel, thereby causing a blood clot. 

Testing your platelet count measures how many platelets you have in your blood. Platelets are parts of the blood that help the blood clot. They are smaller than red or white blood cells.

Why the test is performed

The number of platelets in your blood can be affected by many diseases. Platelets may be counted to monitor or diagnose diseases, or to look for the cause of excess bleeding or clotting.

What a low platelet count means?

A low platelet count is below 150,000. If you do not have enough platelets, you may bleed too much. If your platelet count is below 50,000, your risk of bleeding is much higher. Even everyday activities can cause this bleeding. You need to know how to prevent bleeding and what to do if you have bleeding.

Low platelet count can be divided into three major causes:

  • Not enough platelets are made in the bone marrow
  • Platelets are being destroyed while in the bloodstream
  • Platelets are being destroyed while in the spleen or liver

Three of the more common causes of this problem are:

  • Cancer treatments such as drugs or chemotherapy, as well as radiation
  • Drugs and medicines
  • Autoimmune disorders, in which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue, such as platelets

What does a high platelet count result mean?

A high platelet count is 400,000 or above. A higher-than-normal number of platelets (thrombocytosis) refers to when your body is making too many platelets. That may be caused by:

  • A type of anemia in which red blood cells in the blood are destroyed earlier than normal.
  • After certain infections, major surgery or trauma, allergic reactions
  • Cancer
  • Certain medicines
  • Polycythemia vera

Some people with high platelet counts may be at risk of forming blood clots that can lead to serious medical problems.