Platelets - Platelets Stops Bleeding And How?



What are platelets?

Platelets are also known as thrombocytes, and they perform the important function of stopping a bleed from a blood vessel injury by the process of clumping together and resulting in a blood clot. Bone marrow is involved in its production. Platelets will be either in inactivated or activated state. Inactivated platelets look like circular structures, and activated platelets develop a kind of cell membrane projections across their surface.


How do platelets stop bleeding?

Stopping a bleed at the site of an interrupted endothelium is the platelets major function. Unless the interruption or injury is physically not very large, platelets go about plugging the hole. Stopping the bleed is a 3 step process:

1. Adhesion - Platelets converge and attach to the substances in the outside of the interrupted endothelium.

2. Activation - Secondly, platelets begin to change their shape, receptors are turned on, and certain chemical messengers are secreted and released to attract further platelets to the spot.

3. Aggregation - Thirdly, platelets connect with each other through the receptor bridges.


Platelet facts

1. A blood clot is called a thrombus.

2. Platelets once made and circulated in the bloodstream last for 8 to 10 days.

3. 150000 - 450000 platelets per microliter of blood is a normal platelet count.

4. When platelet count is greater than 450000 it is a condition called thrombocytosis.

5. When platelet count is less than 150000, the condition is called thrombocytopenia.

6. Complete Blood Count (CBC) is a routine blood test that gives the count of platelets in the blood.


Adverse effects of platelets being either too low or too high


Thrombocytopenia

For reasons unknown, the bone marrow produces too few platelets, or, it could also be a result of platelets getting destroyed. Low platelet count can result in bleeding under the skin as a result of a bruise, or bleeding can happen internally within the body. A cut outside of the body can result in continued bleeding. Thrombocytopenia could be a result of certain medications, cancer, certain infections, pregnancy, liver problems, or due to an abnormally functioning immune system.


Essential thrombocythemia

The bone marrow in this condition produces too many platelets. 10 lakh and above could be the platelet count of individuals with this condition, and it could result in bleeding. Further, blood clots could form that eventually leads to the blocking of blood supply to the brain or the heart. The exact cause for this condition is still not fully understood, but it is noticed that mutations in bone marrow cells lead to this problem.


Secondary thrombocytosis

This is again a condition of too many platelets being in existence in the body. This is a more common condition. Bone marrow problems play no role in this condition. However, some underlying disease or other medical conditions cause the overproduction of platelets in the bone marrow. Certain infections, inflammations, some types of cancers, and adverse reactions to certain medications are known to cause this condition. It's not a very serious condition, and things get back to normal once the causative condition gets better.


Platelets dysfunction

Certain rare diseases play a role in the poor functioning of platelets. In such a condition despite the platelets count being normal, the platelets don't function in the manner they are expected to function. Certain medications like aspirin are known to cause such an abnormality. Thus, it's important to know the medicines you are taking and be aware of the increased risk of bleeding such medications can cause.


Symptoms to be wary

Platelets are important cells in the body that control bleeding. Lookout for symptoms like frequent nosebleeds, wounds or a cut that bleeds continuously, or being prone to easy bruising. If you face any such symptoms visit a doctor immediately. A simple blood test is all you need to undergo to know your platelets count.


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