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Platelets (PLT) - description and reference ranges

What is it?

Platelets (PLT) are the smallest type of blood cell and are important for blood clotting. In the event of an injury or wound, platelets clump together to form a plug and stem the bleeding. If your level of platelets is very low it can result in excess bruising and bleeding. If levels are high, it can put you at higher risk of blood clots forming inappropriately which may block blood vessels. In addition, it is important to note that capillary samples may lower the PLT count, and subsequently the PCT. It is recommended that venous samples are used for more relevant PLT/PCT values.

Interpretation
Platelets are the smallest type of blood cell and are important for blood clotting. In the event of an injury or wound, platelets clump together to form a plug and stem the bleeding. If your level of platelets is very low it can result in excess bruising and bleeding. If levels are high, it can put you at higher risk of blood clots forming inappropriately which may block blood vessels. Abnormalities in platelets can occur in infection, autoimmune conditions, due to some medications, and in some cancers.

Reference ranges

If your indicative PLT count is lower than the reference range for our laboratory:

This is also known as thrombocytopenia. Causes of this may include medications, infections, liver disease or some autoimmune conditions.

In rare cases a low PLT can be sign of a blood cancer or other blood disorder.

We would suggest speaking to your GP about the need for further tests.

Because platelets are involved with blood clotting, if your platelets are very low then this can cause easy bruising or bleeding. If you develop these problems then please contact your GP surgery urgently.

If your indicative PLT count is higher than the reference range for our laboratory:

This is also known as thrombocytosis. Thrombocytosis often occurs when the body is reacting against something such as infection or bleeing, or during inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory arthritis and, less commonly, cancer.

It can also occur because of iron deficiency and sometimes occurs becuase the body mistakenly over produces platelets (essential thrombocythemia). We would suggest speaking to your GP about the need for further tests.

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