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Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count) (cont.)

2. Increased platelet destruction

Increased platelet destruction can cause thrombocytopenia by immunologic and non-immunologic mechanisms.

Immunologic causes of thrombocytopenia can be caused by

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is an immunologic thrombocytopenia in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the circulating platelets (autoimmune). ITP is typically chronic (long-standing) in adults and acute in children.

Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is an immune destruction of platelets mediated by the use of the blood thinner heparin and its related drugs (low molecular weight heparin, called enoxaparin [Lovenox]).

Non-immunologic platelet consumptive processes include:

Severe infections or sepsis, irregular blood vessel surface (vasculitis, artificial heart valve), or, rarely, disseminated intravascular coagulation or DIC (a serious complication of overwhelming infections, traumas, burns, or pregnancy).

Other non-immunologic causes of thrombocytopenia are two other rare, but related, conditions called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). These may result from some viral illnesses, metastatic cancers, pregnancy, or chemotherapy. Other clinical manifestations of these conditions are hemolytic anemia, kidney failure, confusion, and fever. HUS is generally associated with an infectious diarrhea in children caused by escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli O157:H7).

HELLP is an acronym for a syndrome seen in pregnant women that causes hemolytic anemia (blood cells rupture), elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/13/2016

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