Thrombocytopenia - drug induced
Thrombocytopenia is any disorder in which there are not enough platelets. Platelets are cells in the blood that help the blood clot. A low platelet count makes bleeding more likely.
When drugs or medications are the causes of a low platelet count, it is called drug-induced thrombocytopenia.
See also: Thrombocytopenia
Causes of Thrombocytopenia - drug induced
Drug-induced thrombocytopenia occurs when certain drugs or medications destroy platelets or interfere with the body's ability to make enough of them.
There are two types of drug-induced thrombocytopenia:
If a drug causes your body to produce antibodies, which seek and destroy your platelets, the condition is called drug-induced immune thrombocytopenia. Heparin, a blood thinner, is probably the most common cause of drug-induced immune thrombocytopenia.
If a medicine prevents your bone marrow from making enough platelets, the condition is called drug-induced nonimmune thrombocytopenia. Chemotherapy drugs and a seizure medication called valproic acid may lead to this problem.
Other drugs that cause drug-induced thrombocytopenia include:
- Gold, used to treat arthritis
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Thrombocytopenia - drug induced Symptoms
Decreased platelets may cause:
- Abnormal bleeding
- Bleeding when you brush your teeth
- Easy bruising
- Pinpoint red spots on the skin (petechiae)
Tests and Exams
Treatment of Thrombocytopenia - drug induced
The first step in treating this type of low platelet count is to stop using the drug that may be causing the problem.
For people who have life-threatening bleeding, treatments may include:
- Immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) given through a vein
- Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis)
- Platelet transfusions
Bleeding can be life threatening if it occurs in the brain or other organs.
A pregnant woman who has antibodies to platelets may pass the antibodies to the baby in the womb.
When to Contact a Health Professional
Call your healthcare provider if you have unexplained bleeding or bruising.
Warkentin TE. Thrombocytopenia due to platelet destruction and hypersplenism. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Shattil SJ, et al, eds. Hoffman Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008:chap 140.
McMillan R. Hemorrhagic disorders: abnormalities of platelet and vascular function. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 179.
|Review Date: 6/13/2011 |
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.