People with essential thrombocythemia who are older are at risk of complications, as are people who've had prior blood clots or bleeding problems related to the disease.
The abnormal blood clotting of essential thrombocythemia can lead to a variety of potentially serious complications, including:
- Pregnancy complications. While many women who have thrombocythemia have normal, healthy pregnancies, uncontrolled thrombocythemia can lead to miscarriage and other complications. Your risk of complications may be reduced with regular checkups and medication, so be sure to have your doctor regularly monitor your condition.
- Stroke. A clot that blocks blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke. If you develop signs and symptoms of a stroke, get immediate medical attention.
- Heart attack. A clot that obstructs blood flow to your heart can cause a heart attack. Get immediate attention if you develop signs and symptoms of a heart attack. These include pressure, fullness or a squeezing pain in the center of your chest lasting more than a few minutes; pain extending to your shoulder, arm, back, teeth or jaw; shortness of breath; and sweating or clammy skin.
Essential thrombocythemia can also cause bleeding with significant blood loss. A small number of people with essential thrombocythemia may later progress to these potentially life-threatening diseases:
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- Acute myelogenous leukemia. This is a type of white blood cell and bone marrow cancer that progresses rapidly.
- Myelofibrosis. This progressive bone marrow disorder results in bone marrow scarring, leading to severe anemia and enlargement of your liver and spleen.
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