Platelets are only about 20% of the diameter of red blood cells. The normal platelet count is 150,000-350,000 per microliter of blood, but since platelets are so small, they represent only a small fraction of the volume of blood. The main function of platelets is to prevent bleeding.
Red blood cells are the most numerous blood cells, around 5,000,000 per microliter. Red blood cells make up about 40% of our total blood volume, a measure called hematocrit. Its color is caused by hemoglobin, which represents almost the entire volume of red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the critical protein that transports oxygen from our lungs to tissues. Red blood cells are normally shaped like round, biconcave discs. On microscopic examination, they look like a red or orange tire with a thin, almost transparent center.
White blood cells are the largest, but also the least. There are only 5,000 to 10,000 white blood cells per microliter. There are several different types of white blood cells, but they are all related to immunity and fighting infections.
A large part of the blood of living beings is made up of platelets ((including red blood cells and plasma)). They are oval in appearance and have a size of four hundred thousandths of an inch. These are very small particles of cells present in bone marrow, which in technical language are called megakaryocytes. Due to the hormone thrombopoietin, they are divided and absorbed into the blood and are automatically destroyed after being transmitted to only 10 tins.
Role of platelets in the body
A healthy person has 5 to 6 liters of blood in his body. The blood contains fluid, red and white blood cells, and many other things, one of which is platelets. A large part of our blood belongs to them. They range in size from 0.002 micrometers to 0.004 micrometers. When viewed with a microscope, they appear spheroidal. The number of platelets in one cubic milliliter of blood of a healthy person varies from one and a half million to four lakhs.
The main function of platelets is to prevent bleeding in the body. Platelets combine with a fluid called collagen to form a temporary wall there and prevent more blood vessel damage. Platelets are small particles of cells present in the bone marrow. Due to the hormone thrombopoietin, it gets divided and mixed in the blood. In 8 to 10 days, they get transmitted and even destroy themselves. The function of thrombopoietin in the body is to maintain a normal number of platelets.
Platelets, also known as thrombocytopenia, are the blood cells responsible for blood clotting. If the blood vessel wall is damaged, the platelets will quickly move to the site of injury and form a stopper or clot to stop the bleeding. If the number of platelets is low (a condition called thrombocytopenia), the risk of uncontrolled or prolonged bleeding increases. When there are too many platelets in the blood (a condition called thrombocytopenia), it can cause abnormal blood clots, which can be dangerous and life-threatening.
What Platelets Do?
Platelets are one of three types of blood cells (in addition to red blood cells and white blood cells) that originate in the bone marrow from cells known as pure cells.
The process that creates platelets through a clot is called adhesion. 1 For example, if you accidentally cut your finger and break blood vessels, it will start bleeding. To stop the bleeding, the platelets inside the broken vessel stick to the site of the injury and send chemical signals for further help.
More platelets answer the call and start contacting each other to form a supplement in a process called aggregation 1. Once a plug or clot is formed in the vascular wall, the coagulation cascade (blood clot) is activated, which then adds fibrin (a structural protein) to the clot To link it. Fibrin is responsible for scabies that you can see at the cutting site.
Testing and Your Platelets
An overview of the numbers, size, and health of platelets is included in the Complete Blood Count Test (CBC), which is a standard blood test laboratory board looking at the composition and blood chemistry.
The specific lab signs that indicate platelets are as follows:
Platelet Count (PLT)
As it sounds, this is the actual amount of platelets you have (per microliter of blood).
- Low range: less than 150,000 platelets per microliter
- Normal range: 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter
- High range: 500,000 to 1,000,000 platelets per microliter
- If your platelet count drops below 50,000, you may experience long bleeding times.
Platelet count is an important number your doctor should know before and after surgery to predict any possible bleeding and clotting problems. It is also an important marker during chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as these treatments can inhibit the production of platelets in the bone marrow.
Mean Platelet Volume (MPV)
The mean platelet volume (MPV) is the average size of the platelets. Younger platelets are larger than older ones, so a high number means you are rapidly producing and releasing them, while a low number means impaired bone marrow production.
Platelets live in the bloodstream for about eight to 10 days.
Platelet Distribution Width (PDW)
PDW is the variation in platelet size, which can indicate conditions that affect platelets.
Platelet function tests can also be done if there are symptoms or potential excessive bleeding, and also to monitor antiplatelet medications.
Causes of Low Platelet Count
If the body doesn’t have enough circulating platelets, it can develop a condition called thrombocytopenia.
The following factors may contribute to low platelet count:
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy: These treatments suppress or kill blood-producing cells (megakaryocytes) in the bone marrow, leading to low platelet production.
Viral infections: Hepatitis C or HIV infections can attack the bone marrow and affect the production of thrombocytes.
Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus or immune thrombocytopenic purpura
Pregnancy: Hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count syndrome, better known as HELLP, in pregnancy is a variant of pre-eclampsia and can lead to the breakdown of blood cells and platelets.
Medications: Blood thinners like warfarin and heparin can inhibit platelet production.
Other examples of conditions that can cause thrombocytopenia to include having a mechanical heart valve, antibodies to heparin, chronic alcohol abuse, liver disease, severe sepsis, and toxic exposures.
A platelet count below 20,000 per microliter is a life-threatening risk, as spontaneous bleeding can occur and is difficult to stop. At that level, you may be given a platelet transfusion.
Causes of High Platelet Count
If the body has too many circulating platelets, it can develop a condition called thrombocytosis.
The following factors may contribute to the high platelet count:
- Primary bone marrow disorder: Essential thrombocytosis is a condition in which megakaryocytes in the bone marrow make too many platelets, increasing the risk of blood clots.
- Chronic inflammation in the body: Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can lead to high platelet counts, as high levels of inflammation can cause the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells and platelets to combat cell damage.
- Infection: Bone marrow cells increase the production of white blood cells and platelets to help fight infection, causing an increase in platelet count.
- Iron deficiency anemia: reactive or secondary thrombocytosis can occur when the body undergoes a breakdown of red blood cells and bone marrow cells go into overproduction to meet needs.
- Spleen removal: Up to a third of platelets are stored in the spleen at any time, so removal of this organ will cause an increase in the concentration of platelets in the bloodstream. However, this is generally a temporary condition.
- Cancer: High platelet counts can also be seen in cancer, especially gastrointestinal cancer, as well as cancer of the lymphoma, lung, ovary, and breast. This is believed to be due to inflammation associated with malignancy that stimulates platelet production in the bone marrow.
A Word From Verywell
Platelets are tiny cells with a very important function in the body: stopping bleeding. There is a wide range of normality in terms of platelet count, but it is important to keep the extremes in mind as well, especially if you are considering having surgery or having another procedure that may require bleeding and clotting. If you have very low or very high platelet levels, be sure to contact your doctor about a safe action plan.
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