10 Fundamentals Around Platelets Function and Handling

Platelets Function

What is the function of platelets?

Platelets function is to control bleeding by clogging and clumping of blood vessels that gets injured. The cells do this with the help of other coagulation factors within the blood system. This clumping provides the initial seal that prevents bleeding, an instance that would otherwise lead to loss of red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma.


Fundamentals surrounding platelets function and handling

1. Composition

The human body is an integration of self-sustaining mechanism that is made up of various systems. This multiplex integrated structure of systems always require a medium to support overall body functions. The medium is called the body fluid. The body is made up of 90 percent of this fluid. Among this fluid is the blood. Usually, blood is made up of a number of components that include the red blood cells, the white blood cells, Plasma and Platelets. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, contribute significantly but constitutes a tiny fraction of the blood volume. Usually, an average person has platelet counts of about 150,000 to 350,000 per micro liter of blood. A low platelet count could prove to be perilous to health. Individuals with low platelet count risks excessive bleeding especially in cases of a bruise or a body cut. Medically, this is referred to as thrombocytopenia.

2. Synthesis

Platelets are usually produced in the bone marrow. This is also the case with the red blood cells and nearly all of the white blood cells. They are produced from relatively large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes. During their development, megakaryocytes usually undergo a process called fragmentation. This process usually results in the development of around 1,000 platelets for each megakaryocyte. Often, the whole process is controlled by a hormone called thromboprotein (TPO). The productivity from the megakaryocyte is meant to increase their functionality in the best way possible.

3. Nature/Structure

One striking feature about platelets is that they are not usually true cells. They are actually cell fragments circulating freely. Their composition is very important in times of bleeding. They contain special type of protein that assist in arresting bleeding. Also, they are able to change their shapes as well as extend their filaments from one wall of a vessel to another. This is usually a mean to explain their adaptability and function in blood clotting.

4. Disorders

Platelets are usually prone to certain disorders with the most common disorder being the excessive release of body aspirin. One effect of aspirin is that it deters platelets from bonding properly onto the blood vessels instead, clumping on each other. Aspirin could  be highly dangerous to patients with bleeding problems. For instance are boys with hemophilia or patients with very few platelets who are dependent on them for protection against bleeding. Too many platelets in the blood can also be termed as a platelet disorder. This condition result when the bone marrow produces too many cells (as many as one million). It implies that there is an increased risk of blood clots for individuals with such a condition. Conversely, too few blood platelets (Thrombocytopenia) could prove equally dangerous. This is because there are few platelets to arrest bleeding in case of a bruise. The condition could arise due to the destruction of platelets being produced in to the blood as a result of medical conditions. Others include Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP); a disorder that makes the body produce antibodies against platelets. This only works to impare the function of the platelets.

5. The platelet test

The Aggregation test (other name for platelet test), assesses how well platelets clump together and cause blood clotting.  Generally, this test is usually meant to test how well the platelets function.  The test is also recommended when one is suspected of inherited or drug induced platelets malfunction. The average time required for blood to clot relies on the temperature and the laboratory. Also, laboratory test results may differ depending on gender, age, health history, method used for the test, and other various factors.  Whenever one takes the test and finds different results from what is usually considered normal, it is not necessarily obvious that the individual is bound to a condition. An aggregation of 65 percent in adults in response to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), arachidonic acid, collagen, epinephrine and ristocetin are considered normal platelets counts.

6. Donation

There are some conditions such as leukemia and other treatments, like chemotherapy that could significantly decrease the platelet count in the body. As noted earlier, low platelet count could lead to serious bleeding (particularly if it occurred in the brain). Usually, platelet transfusion is done by drawing whole blood into a sterile donation kit inside a specialized machine. This machine is able to separate the different blood components. The other blood components are usually returned to the donor. Generally, one requires four units for a single dose (called platelets concentrates). Anyone can donate blood so long as they are registered whole blood and plasma donor. They should also not be under medication that could affect their platelets. Donation is meant to improve the overall functioning of platelets to the receiver.

7. Side Effects

Platelets are usually replaced in a few days after donation. Any healthy individual can donate platelets after two to four weeks of donation. Regular blood test is usually conducted to keep track of every other platelet donor. Mostly, a small amount of anticoagulant is mixed with each withdrawal to prevent blood from clotting in a specialized machine. Some of this anticoagulant may come in contact with the donor’s blood. This may at times result into a significant  moment of tingling sensation on the lips and nose; it doesn’t persist for long. Other common reactions can be shivering, a rise in temperature, itching or a skin rash.

8. Exercise and platelets

Patients with impaired platelet function can be highly tasked with the struggle of living normal lives. Carefully monitored and regulated activities like sporting and exercises could contribute even more in achieving healthy living. Human bodies are constantly wearing while blood vessels and carpillaries pop. A considerable involvement in exercise and sporting activities is very crucial in reparing and maintaing the body and production of defensive mechanisms and thereby, increase the functionality of the platelets in the body.

9. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Eating  healthy before a donation is greatly recommended. This can be achieved with  maintaining healthy eating habits by indulging in foods rich in iron like red meat, as well as a diet composed of fish, cereals, beans and vegetables. Fatty foods, such as hamburgers, ice creams or fries should be avoided at all cost prior to donating. That is because they could affect the test results on one’s blood. It could also alter the tests for any infectious diseases affecting the blood.

10. Safety of transfusion

There are some instances where individuals are worried over the safety of the platelets during the transfusion process. One need not to worry. Donors usually undergo a thorough screening before the process. This process is certainly aimed at minimizing the spread of blood transmitted diseases such as HIV. Therefore, the chances in the tranfusioon of such infected blood is very slim.

To find out more on what do platelets do, check out both posts on what are platelets and blood coagulation.


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