|Classification and external resources|
Thrombocytosis (or thrombocythemia) is the presence of high platelet counts in the blood, and can be either primary (also termed essential and caused by a myeloproliferative disease) or reactive (also termed secondary). Although often symptomless (particularly when it is a secondary reaction), it can predispose to thrombosis in some patients. Thrombocytosis can be contrasted with thrombocytopenia, a loss of platelets in the blood.
In a healthy individual, a normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 and 450,000 per mm³ (or microlitre) (150–450 x 109/L). These limits, however, are determined by the 2.5th lower and upper percentile, and a deviation does not necessary imply any form of disease. Nevertheless, counts over 750,000 (and especially over a million) are considered serious enough to warrant investigation and intervention.
Signs and symptoms
High platelet levels do not necessarily signal any clinical problems, and are picked up on a routine full blood count. However, it is important that a full medical history be elicited to ensure that the increased platelet count is not due to a secondary process. Often, it occurs in tandem with an inflammatory disease, as the principal stimulants of platelet production (e.g. thrombopoietin) are elevated in these clinical states as part of the acute phase reaction.
Scientific literature sometimes excludes thrombocytosis from the scope of thrombophilia by definition, but practically, by the definition of thrombophilia as an increased predisposition to thrombosis, thrombocytosis (especially primary thrombocytosis) is a potential cause of thrombophilia. Conversely, secondary thrombocytosis very rarely causes thrombotic complications.
Increased platelet counts can be due to a number of disease processes:
- Essential (primary)
- Reactive (secondary)
- Kawasaki disease
- Soft tissue sarcoma
- Dermatitis (rarely)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Bacterial diseases, including pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, urinary tract infections, and septic arthritis.
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Often, no treatment is required or necessary for reactive thrombocytosis. In cases of reactive thrombocytosis of more than 1,000x109/L, it may be considered to administer daily low dose aspirin (such as 65 mg) to minimize the risk of stroke or thrombosis.
However, in primary thrombocytosis, if platelet counts are over 750,000 or 1,000,000, and especially if there are other risk factors for thrombosis, treatment may be needed. Selective use of aspirin at low doses is thought to be protective. Extremely high platelet counts in primary thrombocytosis can be treated with hydroxyurea (a cytoreducing agent) or anagrelide (Agrylin).
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