Platelet Count

What Is Platelet Count?

Platelets are small cell fragments which have an important role in clotting the blood and help to stop bleeding when blood vessels become injured. A platelet count is the number of platelets in the blood. It is simply just a count, it doesn’t give any indication of how well they are functioning.[1]

Which tests include this marker?

What Role Do They Plan In The Body?

Platelets are known as anucleate cells, that is they have no nucleus, and circulate in the blood searching for defects in structural integrity. In other words, if there is a wound then the platelets will work together to naturally stem the bleed and clot the blood.[2] 

Platelets naturally circulate in the blood. When an injury occurs causing a blood vessel wall to break, the platelets become activated and can begin to seal the wound. When inactivated, platelets are circular in shape, but then they are activated they change to a spiky formation. This change in shape allows them to stick to the broken vessel and each other enabling them to plug the hole. Another protein found in the blood called fibrin interacts with the platelets to help seal the wound. Fibrin helps to form a net which traps more activated, circulating platelets and other red blood cells to produce a clot which seals the wound.

Due to their clotting properties, however, platelets have been shown to produce clots in diseased vessels too (known as thrombosis). Platelet activation also provides a link between the development of disease which is predisposed to inflammation and thrombosis. Therefore, a platelet count can be used as a prognostic and therapeutic marker for such diseases.[3]

How Does Platelet Count Affect My Wellbeing?

A low platelet count is also called thrombocytopenia and can be caused by two things:

  • The bone marrow doesn’t produce enough platelets
  • The bone marrow produces platelets but they are destroyed quicker than they are made
  • A low platelet count may not present with any symptoms but if the level is very low some signs are:
  • Red/purple spots on the skin known as petechiae
  • osebleeds
  • Blood in your urine

A high platelet count or thrombocytosis is caused by an overproduction of platelets. The condition can be a side effect of another condition or can be caused by bone marrow problems.[4] A serious side effect of thrombocytosis can be blood clots. These can vary from tiny blood clots in the hands and feet, leaving them numb and red to severe clots in organs such as the brain and heart.[5]

How Can I Improve My Result?

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting a sufficient amount of exercise can help to keep you healthy.


Diet

Iron is essential for the health of red blood cells. Red blood cells play a key role in the initial plugging of a wound alongside platelets. Good sources of dietary iron include:

  • Red meat – beef, lamb and pork
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – spinach, cabbage and broccoli
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Pulses[6]

Plant-based sources of iron such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seed, pulses and fortified cereals may be absorbed better in the presence of vitamin C.[7] Try eating fortified breakfast cereals alongside a glass of orange juice or swap chips for a jacket potato with a side of green leafy veg – be sure to eat the skin of the potato.

You should also refrain from drinking tea with your meals as this can affect iron absorption. Instead, you should drink it between meals to ensure you absorb iron effectively.[8]

Exercise

Haemostasis is the body’s normal ability to respond to bleeding or haemorrhage. Research has shown that haemostasis is involved in the benefits gained from physical exercise. MPV could be a predictor of endurance performance in long-duration exercise.[9]

Physical activity is preventative against cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. But exercise leads to temporary activation on the thrombotic system. In healthy individuals, there is an increase in fibrin activity. However, in people who have heart disease, their fibrin activity is compromised. Therefore, they should seek medical advice before attempting strenuous physical exertion.[10]

Tests that include this marker

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References

[1] Lab Tests Online UK. (2014). Platelet Count.  Available at: https://labtestsonline.org.uk/tests/platelet-count

[2] Walsh, T, G., Metharom, P and Berndt, M, C. (2014). The Functional Role of Platelets in the Regulation of Angiogenesis. Platelets: Early Onliine.

[3] Gasparyan, A, Y., Ayvazyan, L., Mikhailidis, D, P and Kitas, G, D. (2011). Mean Platelet Volume: A Link Between Thrombosis and Inflammation? Current Pharmaceutical Design: 17, pp 47-58.

[4] Bleeker, J, S and Hogan, W, J. (2011). Thrombocytosis: Diagnostic Evaluation, Thrombotic Risk Stratification, and Risk-Based Management Strategies. Thrombosis.

[5] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2018). Thrombocythemia and Thrombocytosis. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/thrombocythemia-and-thrombocytosis 

[6] British Dietetic Association. (2017). Food Fact Sheet: Iron. Available at: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/iron_food_fact_sheet.pdf

[7] Lane, D, J, R and Richardson, D, R. (2014). The Active Role of Vitamin C in Mammalian Iron Metabolism: Much More than Just Enhanced Iron Absorption. Free Radical Biology and Medicine: 75, pp 69-83.

[8] Zijp, I, M., Korver, O and Tijburg, L, B, M. (2000). Effect of Tea and Other Dietary Factors on Iron Absorption. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: 40(5), pp 371-398.

[9] Alis, R., Sanchis-Gomar, F., Risso-Ballester, J., Blesa, J, R and Romagnoli, M. (2015). Effect of Training Status on the Changes in Platelet Parameters Indued by Short-Duration Exhaustive Exercise. Platelets: 27(2), pp 117-122.

[10] Yilmaz, M, B., Saricam, E., Biykoglu, S, F., Guray, Y., Guray, U., Sasmaz, H and Korkmaz, S. (2004). Mean Platelet Volume and Exercise Stress Test. J Thromb Thrombolysis: 17(2), pp 115-20.


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