One of the greatest gifts we’ve been given on this Earth is the human body. It can do incredible things and is a temple of the soul. Every decision you make has an effect on the body: what you eat, what you drink, what activities you do, the list goes on and on! In order to keep your body working at its best, you need to know how it works and what happens on the inside. If you can keep track of the inner workings of the body, you can prevent unwanted illnesses and improve your overall health.
One of the most amazing cells in the body is the platelet. There is an ongoing debate whether blood thinners are a direct link to having a low platelet count. We are going to see if this is true and if you should be aware of this.
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Platelets: What They Are and What They Do
Before we dive into the subject of a low platelet count due to blood thinners, you first have to understand what platelets are and what they do inside the body. Picture this: You are handling sheets of paper at work and your finger slides along the edge of one sheet. Immediately, your finger starts bleeding and you race to get a band aid. This one scenario is when platelets come into action! Platelets are the smallest of the cells within the blood and they can only be seen when under a microscope. These little guys circulate in the blood and are constantly on the lookout for blood vessels that need their help. In the case like the one before, they would race throughout the body to find the open wound and then start to work. Their circular shape shifts into long tentacles, binding together to cover a break or tear in a vessel, in order to heal the wound faster. This essentially causes a blood clot and stops excessive bleeding from the open wound.
Even though you don’t know it, you probably have anywhere between 150,000 to 450,000 platelets in every microliter of blood in your body. You have millions of platelets! However, there are some people who have too many platelets in their blood and are diagnosed with thrombocytosis. Primary thrombocytosis means cells in the bone marrow have become abnormal, increasing the platelet count. Having secondary thrombocytosis is usually caused by an ongoing disease such as an infection or cancer. When you have too many platelets, it can lead to abnormal blood clots in the arms and legs, and if they go untreated it is a direct link to heart attacks and strokes. Doctors have discovered a way to drastically remove platelets from the system should there be too many.
On the other side of the spectrum, some people have a limited number of platelets, and this is called thrombocytopenia. When you have this you probably will bruise easily and have frequent bleeding from the nose or the gums. The platelet count drops when a disease or infection gets in the way of the production of platelets. This can be caused by cancer, chemotherapy treatment, kidney infections, the consumption of alcohol, or from various medications. So what about blood thinners, are they causes as well?
Are Blood Thinners Related to a Low Platelet Count?
For a number of reasons, you may be taking a blood-thinning medicine right now. In most cases, a doctor has prescribed it to stabilize your current medical situation. However, it has been proven that blood thinners do cause low platelet counts and can cause more bleeding throughout the body (mostly from the nose or the gums). In these cases, you have what is called “drug-induced thrombocytopenia.” For example, heparin, one of the most prescribed medicines for thinning the blood, is one of the most common causes of drug-induced thrombocytopenia.
These blood-thinning medicines can often cause the body to produce antibodies that go out and kill platelets in your blood stream. That may sound dangerous, but blood thinners are also fantastic ways to protect yourself from the risk of stroke and heart attack. These blood thinners directly are going to get rid of platelets because it decreases the formation of blood clots in the veins and arteries of the body. If a doctor notices that you have a blood clot anywhere in the body, right away they are going to put you on a blood thinner to reduce your current risk and prevent clots from forming in the future. So while blood thinners do in fact cause a low platelet count, they can also save lives.
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Consulting a Doctor
In all of these cases, the first thing you have to do is consult your doctor. Maybe you’ve never had your platelet count checked and you should, just so you can know where you are at currently. These days, it seems that you can self-diagnose easily due to the power and knowledge on the internet, but you will not be able to determine your platelet level unless a doctor sees a need and orders the blood test for you. They will be able to determine whether adopting a blood-thinning medicine into your daily routine is going to help the health of your heart. They may also realize that you need more platelets and may put you on additional medicine to raise the count.
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Did you know that the ingestion of papaya leaves can actually raise your platelet count? So, if for any reason your platelet level is low due to the blood thinner you are taking, simply grind up a papaya plant, or juice one, to steadily increase the platelets in your system. By going to a doctor first it is going to help you make concrete decisions to help your body.
So yes, blood thinners do cause a low platelet count, but as we said before this should not scare you away from taking your prescribed blood-thinning medication. Blood thinners can save your life and promote a healthy heart, reducing clots in your system.