Platelets are a fundamental part of blood and are cells that do not contain any DNA in them. Platelets are important because they perform some vital basic tasks. Platelets contain the growth factor which is a natural substance responsible for the growth of cells in the body. Growth factor also allows cells to expand, proliferate and to become differentiated from each other in order to perform various different tasks in the blood. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting, known medically as hemostasis. Hemostasis is the process by which the blood changes from liquid form to solid form in order to cover a wound and to stop bleeding from taking place. In normal circumstances, there are clotting inhibitors in the blood that control the proliferation of platelets. When an injury occurs this inhibitor stops functioning and allows the platelets to make the blood clot. Platelets are formed in the bone marrow.
A blood platelet count test or a platelet test will show the quantity of platelets in the blood. Healthy people will have a platelet count within the normal range of platelets. If there are too few or too many platelets in the system, then the doctor may suspect a problem. This may also be used to confirm a diagnosis if other symptoms lead to a particular illness. Thrombocytopenia is a condition where there is a low platelet count in a platelets blood test. Thrombocytosis is a condition where there is a high level of platelets in a blood test platelet count.
A low blood platelet count, thrombocytopenia is likely to cause bleeding related problems. There may also be easy bruising of the skin without any significant physical trauma. This may be a reason why aged people develop bruises on their arms. There is also the tendency to bleed more than normal because a low level of platelets means that the blood would not or take some more time to clot over a wound. Low platelets can be caused by the deficiency of several vitamins. However, this may be a result of an underlying condition and therefore a full checkup is vital after platelet testing.
High blood platelet count, thrombocytosis, will not necessarily cause any symptoms and may be picked up while testing routinely. It may be a result of some inflammation in the body but this is at the particular stage when the inflammation is growing and the count may be back to normal once the inflammation has stopped increasing in size.