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Essential Thrombocythemia

Essential Thrombocythemia - What it is

​Essential thrombocythemia (ET) is a blood condition where there is uncontrolled production of blood cells by the bone marrow. People with essential thrombocythemia will have too many platelets which results in a higher risk of forming blood clots.  

Essential Thrombocythemia - Symptoms

​Patients with ET present in different ways. 

 Symptoms include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Sensation of itch
  • Painful and swollen joints of the hands and feet
  • Blood clots

For many, they may not have any symptoms, but abnormalities were detected after a routine blood test.  

Essential Thrombocythemia - How to prevent?

​Many patients with essential thrombocythemia are recognized incidentally during routine blood test. 

Currently there are also no proven preventive strategies for ET. 

However, adopting a healthy lifestyle may help to prevent disease. This includes: 
  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Quitting or not starting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Regular exercise

Essential Thrombocythemia - Causes and Risk Factors

​Essential thrombocythemia occurs when there is a mutation in genes which is involved in the regulation of blood cell production. The cause of the gene mutation is unknown and is usually not an inheritable mutation. 

Essential Thrombocythemia - Diagnosis

To make a diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia, patients will require blood tests including a full blood count and tests for the mutations (gene alterations) found with MPN. The gene alteration usually associated are Jak2 V617F, Calreticulin (CALR), and MPL. 

Patients may need a bone marrow aspiration and trephine biopsy, as well as additional tests to exclude other causes of elevated blood counts.

Essential Thrombocythemia - Treatments

​The treatment of essential thrombocythemia includes

  • Decrease the risk of blood clots: through the use of “blood thinners” such as antiplatelet agents like aspirin or anticoagulation therapies.
Good control of pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus also helps to decrease the risk of blood clot.
A healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and a healthy diet is also recommended.

  • Some patients with higher risk for blood clots may require medications to help reduce the platelet count
In patients who require reduction of the platelet count, this can be achieved with medication: hydroxyurea, anagrelide, PEGylated interferon.

Young patients with no history of previous blood clots generally do not need medications to reduce the platelet count.  

Essential Thrombocythemia - Preparing for surgery

Essential Thrombocythemia - Post-surgery care

Essential Thrombocythemia - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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