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I understand this illness is the term for too many platelets.


Essential thrombocytosis (ET, also known as essential thrombocythemia) is a rare chronic blood disorder characterized by the overproduction of platelets the bone marrow. In some cases this disorder may be progressive, and rarely may evolve into acute myeloid leukemia or myelofibrosis. The disease usually affects middle aged to elderly individuals, with an average age at diagnosis of 50-60 years, although it can affect children and young adults as well.

The major symptoms are bleeding and thrombosis. Other symptoms include nosebleeds and bleeding from gums and gastrointestinal tract. One characteristic symptom is throbbing and burning of the hands and feet due to the occlusion of small arterioles by platelets. An enlarged spleen may be found on examination.

Not all patients will require treatment. In those who are at increased risk of thrombosis or bleeding (older age, prior history of bleeding or thrombosis, or very high platelet count), reduction of the platelet count to the normal range can be achieved using hydroxyurea (also known as hydroxycarbamide), interferon or anagrelide. Low-dose aspirin is widely used to reduce the risk of thrombosis, but there may be an increased risk of bleeding if aspirin is initiated whilst the platelet count is very high.

In rare cases where patients have life-threatening complications, the platelet count can be reduced rapidly using platelet apheresis (a procedure that removes platelets from the blood directly).

Essential thrombocytosis is sometimes described as a slowly progressive disorder with long asymptomatic periods punctuated by thrombotic or hemorrhagic events.

However, well-documented medical regimes can reduce and control the number of platelets, which reduces the risk of these thrombotic or haemorrhagic events. The lifespan of a well controlled ET person is well within the expected range for a person of similar age but without ET.

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