How to interpret Platelet count results?

What are platelets?


Platelets (Thrombocytes) are one of the many types of cells present in the blood that play an important role in clotting mechanism. Blood flows seamlessly through the arteries and veins throughout the body. Whenever there is damage to the blood vessel walls, it may lead to internal or external bleeding. Platelets partner with coagulation factors and other integral particles to form a clot or thrombus which in turn stops the bleeding.


Platelet count is the part of routinely performed lab test called compete blood count or CBC


Image Source: National Institute of Health


Normal platelet count range: 140-400 thousand/ microliter (range may vary among various labs)


What are the common causes of low platelet count (Thrombocytopenia)?


  • Autoimmune (where one’s own antibodies attack the platelets)

  • Medications (e.g. certain antibiotics, seizure medications, chemotherapies, heparin etc.)

  • Liver and spleen disease

  • Bone marrow disorder or cancer

  • Alcohol

  • Pregnancy

  • Infection by certain bacteria, viruses, parasites

  • Nutrition deficiencies (like folic acid, Vitamin B12, Copper etc.)

  • Rheumatological conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis etc.


What are the common causes of high platelet count (Thrombocytosis)?


  • Reactive thrombocytosis caused by anemia, infection/inflammation, after spleen removal/malfunction

  • Polycythemia vera

  • Leukemia

  • Other bone marrow conditions like myelofibrosis, myelodysplastic syndromes

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