Your blood consists of three main parts, white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Today we’re here to talk about platelets, specifically your platelet count.
Platelets are indeed a very important component of the blood. Without these platelets, we simply would not survive at all. That being said, too many platelets in our blood can be just as bad.
The fact of the matter is that platelet counts do fluctuate and this can be due to several different reasons. Not too long ago, it was ruled out that age had any kind of major effect on platelet numbers, but this was recently proven to not be true. So, does platelet count decrease with age?
Does platelet count decrease with age?
The short and simple answer to this question is yes, the platelet count does decrease with age, quite significantly at that.
There were several studies done in the last century which have all contributed towards the conclusion that age definitely has an effect on the number of platelets in your body.
It seems as though when you age, your body’s ability to produce platelets starts to decline. Although there are ways to increase your platelets count.
Now, it is probably important for you to know what the average number of platelets in the human body is. For a healthy adult, the number of platelets should be between 150,000 and 450,000 platelets for every microliter of blood. Any amount below 150,000, especially if you go below 50,000, can be very dangerous.
This can result in spontaneous bleeding, excessive bleeding from small cuts, bleeding of the gums and nose, and even severe internal bleeding to the point of bleeding out.
On the other hand, having over 450,000 platelets in your system can also become quite dangerous. This can cause your blood to clot inside of your veins and arteries, thus forming blockages and increasing the chances of you suffering from a stroke. So, back to the main point, yes, platelet count does decrease with age.
Infancy, adulthood, and old age
There is actually quite a close correlation shown between age and the number of platelets in your blood. Generally speaking, a healthy baby or infant will have by far the most blood platelets of all human beings.
There is then usually a decline in blood platelet counts as infants mature into young children and then into adulthood. It is shown that platelet counts do decrease quite a bit during puberty.
However, on the flipside of things, during adulthood, it is shown that age does not have a big effect on platelet count. The number of platelets in the blood, aside from outside contributing factors, generally stays more or less the same during adulthood.
The next platelet decreasing event occurs is during old age. Between the ages of 15 and 50, platelet counts tend to stay the same; they do fluctuate a little bit, but there are usually no sharp decreases during this time period.
After 50 years old is when you will start to see a really sharp decline in your platelet count. The elderly may have as much as 35% less platelets in the blood when compared to an infant or young adult.
The funny thing is that there is still no 100% proven reason as to why these age-related changes occur in terms of platelet counts in the human body.
Yes, it is shown that platelets decrease with age, but why this is, we still do not really know. Some people have hypothesized that the decrease in platelets from infancy to old age may have something to do with the drastic decrease of thrombopoietin levels as you age.
Another theory is that individuals who have a lower platelet count but still within the normal level, have some kind of survival advantage, almost like older bodies slowly adapting to the world around them.
Some people have also hypothesized that the decrease in platelet count in old age may have something to do with the reduction in hematopoietic stem cell reserves as you age.
However, all of that being said, all of these causes are more or less hypothetical, with none of them ever being proven. This is an area of science and human biology that still needs to be studied more for a full understanding of why platelets decrease with age.
Platelets, age, and gender
Another interesting thing to consider here is that platelet counts also seem to be related to gender. It would appear as though women have an increased number of platelets in adulthood when compared to males.
Now, during infancy, the number of platelets in the blood seems to be about the same for males and females.
However, it is after puberty when women show a real difference. It is shown that women have up to 10% more platelets than men after puberty.
Scientists have speculated that this may have something to do with the increased amount of iron produced in the female body during periods of menstruation.
This difference in platelets counts between males and females only seems to get more pronounced as we age. Elderly women are shown to have around 25% fewer platelets in the blood when compared to female infants, whereas elderly men are shown to have up to 35% fewer platelets in old age when compared to females.
Therefore, there does seem to be a direct correlation between age, gender, and platelet count.
There are of course other factors which can cause platelet counts to increase or decrease, especially as we age. Things like our diet, sleep, stress, alcohol, drugs, and illness are all things that can have quite the effect on platelet counts.
Remember, do not be alarmed if your platelet count decreases with age, especially if you are a man. This is totally normal as has been proven by countless scientific studies. As long as you do not dip below that crucial 150,000 mark you will be just fine.