Low Platelet Counts
Once the results of a platelet count are in, a doctor can determine what is wrong with the patient or what disease they may or may not be at risk of. So, what does a low platelet count mean on blood test results?
Bone marrow disease, leukemia or other types of cancer in the bone marrow can cause the blood platelet count to be low. Patients that have these types of cancer are at risk of excessive bleeding. Once the cancer cells starts to grow in the bone marrow, little room is left for normal bone marrow cells. This causes there to be fewer platelet-producing cells.
Patients with chronic bleeding, stomach ulcers or other long-term bleeding problems have a decreased amount of platelet cells. When a patient bleeds often or for long periods of time, the supply of platelets is reduced.
Lupus and idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) are autoimmune disorders where the patient's immune system creates antibodies that attack their own organs. Once the antibodies attack the patient's organs, platelets are destroyed.
Other conditions that can cause the platelet levels to decrease are condition specific therapies and drugs. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy destroy a patient's platelet cells. Acetaminophen, quinidine, sulfa drugs, digoxin, vancomycin, valium, and nitroglycerine are a few drugs that have been shown to decrease platelet counts in tests. Because this occurs, patients are usually asked to refrain from taking these types of drugs before any type of surgery or procedure.