• A low blood platelet count, known as thrombocytopenia, prevents blood from clotting normally. This can be an indication of serious medical conditions.


    The three main reasons for a low blood platelet count include reduced platelet production at bone marrow, blockage of platelets at enlarged spleen and an overuse or elimination of platelets by the body.

    Conditions Affecting Bone Marrow

    HIV and cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma reduce the capacity of bone marrow to produce platelets.

    Conditions Affecting the Spleen

    Myelofibrosis and certain forms of cirrhosis can enlarge the spleen. This hinders the passage of platelets into the bloodstream.

    Conditions Affecting Platelet Use and Elimination by the Body

    HIV, lupus, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and hemolytic-uremic syndrome cause the body to use more platelets or trigger an immune response that attacks platelets. Taking certain drugs, such as heparin, can increase the body's use of platelets as well. The result is a very low blood platelet count.


    In order to return the platelets to a stable level, the underlying condition must be treated. Some patients require lifelong treatments to replenish platelets because there is no cure for the underlying condition.


    The Merck Manual of Health & Aging: Low Platelet Count

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