Platelets are cell fragments of the bone marrow that travel into the blood. They play an important role in coagulation process by forming clots where small vessels have ruptured following a trauma. When the platelet count is significantly higher, the risk of complications due to excessive coagulation (thrombosis) is high. When it's too low, the risk of bleeding, even haemorrhage, is higher. Abnormally low platelet count is called thrombocytopenia and abnormally high level is called thrombocytosis.
If the result is too high
The platelet count can be higher in some types of infection, cancer or inflammatory diseases. The platelet count can also be higher in people who no longer have their spleen or those who recently underwent a surgery. Iron deficiency anemia also increases the amount of platelets in the blood.
If the result is too low
A reduced production in the bone marrow will result in lower platelet count and is seen in diseases of the bone marrow, such as leukemias or certain infections or in vitamin B12 deficiency, for example. Radiotherapy can also lower platelet count. Certain drugs and diseases of the immune system cause platelet destruction.
Being in high altitude and making intense physical activity can increase the number of platelets in the blood.
Platelet count is lower during a woman's period and pregnancy. Frequent bleedings can also decrease the number of platelets in the blood. Certain drugs lower platelet count:
What you need to know before the test
Before going for blood tests, a procedure or other exam, it is best to always bring a list of all the drugs you take (prescription, OTC and natural health products). Unless told otherwise, you should take your medication as usual on the day of the test. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist for more information.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.