If a patient has life-threatening complications, a procedure to remove platelets directly from the blood (platelet apheresis) can quickly decrease the platelet count.
Long-term use of medications to decrease the platelet count can reduce both bleeding and clotting complications. The most commonly used medications include hydroxyurea (also known as hydroxycarbamide,) interferon-alpha, or anagrelide.
In patients who are at high risk of clotting (older patients, those with very high platelet levels or who have had past clotting episodes), aspirin at a low dose (81 to 100 mg per day) decreases clotting episodes, or warfarin.
Most people with ET, with the possible exception of those with increased bleeding risk or a very high platelet count, will be advised to take aspirin or a similar drug.
Many patients do not need any treatment. However, the health care provider should monitor their condition.
Reviewed March 2013