A platelet count is a laboratory test used to identify the number of platelets in the human body. It is one way to detect the occurrence of disease as well as the appropriate treatment that needs to be done for the patient. Blood counting is just one method used to determine the platelet count. Many instruments were developed to produce accurate results and study a lot of blood samples from various donors.
Because this method was used many years ago, several studies have been conducted, and results indicate that the platelet count varies according to different factors such as age, sex, and race. Therefore, the variables do not only rely on a single reference only, but many bases have been used to determine the differences between each donor.
Physiological factors that affect the platelet count
In 1977, scientists Alexander and Stevens examined if the platelet count has something to do with a person’s age. They gathered 868 blood donors with age 18 to 65 years old. However, results did not show any difference. These findings were contradicted a few years later when 477 ambulatory patients show that their platelet count has declined as they aged.
People with age 71 years old and above have lower platelet count than the children with ages between one to five years old. There were same results when another study was conducted among 12,142 adults a few years later. In general, the platelet count drops 35% lower in men as they aged while 25% for women as they grow older.
Although we are taking advantage of the advanced technology nowadays, experts are still looking for an exact explanation of this age-related changes. More investigation should be done to ensure that the data are correct.
Also in 1977, the same donors were studied to evaluate if there are also differences when it comes to gender. It shows that women have a higher platelet count than men which ranges between 150 to 450 billion platelets per liter of blood. This result has a slight difference of 20 to 40×10(9)per liter of blood. This number decreases during pregnancy or the menopausal period.
The study shows that there is no difference in platelet count in both men and women below 15 years old. In general, the platelet count of women with ages between 15 to 64 years old is 10% higher than men with the same age range.
It was speculated that these changes were due to puberty whereas, women reduce more iron when their menstrual cycle occurs, thus stimulating more production of platelets at the same time. It was also observed that estrogen on this maturity level plays a significant factor in the differences of platelet count.
Medical experts believed that platelet count could be inherited based on several studies that show the same data. It is, therefore, an essential factor that determines the health of an individual. The genetic background was also evaluated in different regions and races. Results show that platelet count also varies in different areas and ethnicity background.
Based on all these categories, the general result shows that the platelet count is dependent on gender women have higher platelet count, with an average of 252.35+/-41.25×10(9) per liter of blood. Men, on the other hand, have an average platelet count of 221.87+/-37.63×10(9) per liter of blood.
How is the platelet count measured
A hemocytometer is used to measure the platelet concentration. The platelet count can also be determined by using an automated platelet analyzer like electrical impedance or Coulter counter. Generally, the normal range of platelet count 150,000 to 450,000 per cubic millimeter. This rate is found in 95% of healthy women. It is a way for the medical experts to determine if the person is suffering from thrombocytopenia, which is low platelet count, or thrombocytosis, which is a higher platelet count.
The presence of the symptoms found in women can also be used to determine the appropriate treatment for the condition. In severe cases, they may experience heavy menstrual period which can last for more than three days if not reported immediately to the doctor. Studies found that the number of platelets in women are slightly reduced before their menstrual cycle. On the other hand, women who use oral contraceptives or drugs that contain estrogen show that they have increased platelet count.
In some cases, the EDTA, which is used in blood testing, can cause the coagulation of platelets that provide an inaccurate reading. If it happens, additional blood testing with the use of Citrated Blood Count is used to verify the accuracy of the data.
Does the platelet count vary in pregnant women?
Pregnant women may have a lower platelet count, which ranges from 100 million to 150 million per milliliter of blood. This condition can still be treated by giving supplemental iron or folate to the mother. It should not bring harm to both the woman and her baby. It can also be corrected by eating iron-rich foods and those that contain folate. The level of your platelet will become normal after you gave birth.
This mild case is normally happening to pregnant women because the body manufactures more plasma than the other cells of the blood. It is the liquid part that can dilute platelets if there are more of them that flow in the bloodstream. As a result, fewer platelets are left to perform their function in blood clotting.
Moreover, the destruction of platelets speeds up during the pregnancy period. The bone marrow cannot accommodate the manufacture of enough numbers of platelets to replace the damaged ones. As a result, fewer of them are produced, but they are larger and younger. When the platelet count drops to 50 million per milliliter of blood, that is the time that the doctor should diagnose it as severe thrombocytopenia. It is a dangerous level for pregnant women that should be treated before it affects the baby.