What is Essential Thrombocythemia
Essential thrombocythemia is a condition in which a person has too many platelets (thrombocytes) in the blood. Platelets are parts of blood that stick together and form a clot (thrombus) to help the body stop bleeding after an injury. This condition may also be called primary or essential thrombocytosis.
Essential thrombocythemia happens when abnormal cells in the bone marrow (megakaryocytes) make too many platelets.
What are the causes?
The cause of this condition is not known.
What are the signs or symptoms?
This condition may not cause any symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include:
- Dizziness or confusion.
- Tingling or burning in your hands or feet.
- Blood clots.
- Enlarged spleen.
How is this diagnosed?
This condition may be diagnosed based on:
- A physical exam.
- Your symptoms.
- Your medical history.
- Blood tests.
- A procedure to collect a sample of your bone marrow (bone marrow aspiration) for testing.
How is this treated?
If you do not have symptoms, you may not need treatment. Your health care provider may monitor your condition with regular blood tests.
If you have symptoms, or if your platelet count is very high, you may be treated with:
- Aspirin or other medicines to thin the blood and prevent blood clots.
- Medicines to reduce the number of platelets in your blood.
procedure to remove some platelets from your blood (plateletpheresis).
During this procedure:
- Your health care provider will place an IV into one of your veins.
- The IV will be used to draw blood into a machine that separates out the extra platelets.
- The blood with reduced platelets will be returned to your body.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
you are taking blood thinners:
- Talk with your health care provider before you take any medicines that contain aspirin or NSAIDs. These medicines increase your risk for dangerous bleeding.
- Take your medicine exactly as told, at the same time every day.
- Avoid activities that could cause injury or bruising, and follow instructions about how to prevent falls.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a card that lists what medicines you take.
- Tell all health care providers, including dentists, about any medicines you are taking to prevent blood clots.
- Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
- Ask your health care provider about managing or preventing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These conditions can make essential thrombocythemia worse.
- Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.
Contact a health care provider if:
- You have severe pain, and medicines do not help.
- You have problems taking your medicines to prevent blood clots.
- You faint.
Get help right away if:
- You have bleeding or blood clots.
- You have unusual bruises.
- You have bloody or tarry stools.
- You have pink or bloody urine.
- Your menstrual periods are heavier than normal, if applicable.
- You have nosebleeds and bleeding gums.
- You have chest pain.
- You have trouble breathing.
have any symptoms of a stroke. “BE FAST”is an easy
way to remember the main warning signs of a stroke:
- B – Balance.Signs are dizziness, sudden trouble walking, or loss of balance.
- E – Eyes.Signs are trouble seeing or a sudden change in vision.
- F – Face.Signs are sudden weakness or numbness of the face, or the face or eyelid drooping on one side.
- A – Arm.Signs are weakness or numbness in an arm. This happens suddenly and usually on one side of the body.
- S – Speech.Signs are sudden trouble speaking, slurred speech, or trouble understanding what people say.
- T – Time.Time to call emergency services. Write down what time symptoms started.
have other signs of a stroke, such as:
- A sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
- Nausea or vomiting.
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
- Essential thrombocythemia happens when abnormal cells in the bone marrow make too many platelets.
- If you have symptoms, or if your platelet count is very high, you may need treatment.
- Treatment can vary and may include medicines to thin the blood and prevent blood clots.
- Ask your health care provider about how to manage or prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These conditions can make essential thrombocythemia worse.
- Get help right away if you have any symptoms of stroke.