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, be sure to have your doctor regularly monitor your condition. Uncontrolled thrombocythemia can cause miscarriage, premature delivery, high blood pressure (preeclampsia), early separation of the placenta from the uterine wall (placental abruption) and slow fetal growth. Your risk of complications may be reduced with regular checkups and medication.
- 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. If you develop signs and symptoms of a heart attack, such as 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, get immediate medical attention.
Essential thrombocythemia can also cause bleeding (hemorrhage) with significant blood loss. A small minority of people with essential thrombocythemia may later develop acute leukemia or myelofibrosis, both of which can be life-threatening:
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- Acute leukemia. Acute myelogenous leukemia is a type of blood and bone marrow cancer that progresses rapidly.
- Myelofibrosis. This progressive bone marrow disorder results in bone marrow scarring, severe anemia, and enlargement of your liver and spleen.
- Thrombocythemia. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/hematology_and_oncology/myeloproliferative_disorders/essential_thrombocythemia.html. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Tefferi A. Diagnosis and clinical manifestations of essential thrombocythemia. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- What are thrombocythemia and thrombocytosis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/thrm. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Essential thrombocythemia. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/myeloproliferative/HealthProfessional/page5. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Tefferi A. Prognosis and treatment of essential thrombocythemia. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Myeloproliferative disorders. Lab Tests Online. http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/myelopro-disorders/start/2. Accessed Aug. 8, 2012.
- Valera MC, et al. Essential thrombocythemia and pregnancy. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. 2011;158:141.
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