When the immune system, responsible for defend the body infections and different pathologiesmisses its target and mistakenly attacks healthy cells in organs and tissues, a autoimmune disease. There are more than 80 types of these pathologies, one of them is immune thrombocytopenia.
In this case, immune thrombocytopenia, platelets are affected present in our blood and responsible for good blood clotting, as explained in Dr Cristina Pascualpresident of the Spanish Immune Thrombocytopenia Group (GEPTI), of the Spanish Society of Hematology and Hemotherapy (SEHH).
- “The main cause of this decrease is the accelerated destruction of antibodies produced by the immune system and a decrease in their production in the bone marrow.”
Symptoms of immune thrombocytopenia
Due to the decrease in the number of platelets in the blood, the patient will have The main sign of the disease is the appearance of spontaneous bruises anywhere on the body..
In addition to these bruises, there is another series of symptoms that can also appear, such as:
- Subcutaneous bleeding points.
- Bleeding gums or nose.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding in women.
- In some cases, serious bleeding may occur.
On another side, Immune thrombocytopenia can occur in two ways:
- Acute: “In this case symptoms appear suddenly and may go away on their ownespecially in the childrenalthough they sometimes require treatment.
- In chronic formmore common in adults, the condition persists in the long term and may require several types of treatments to control it,” explains the specialist.
In both cases, Dr Pascual indicates that:
“All those symptoms affect physically and emotionally to people who suffer from it and causes:
- Fatigue, which is the most common symptom in these patients, whatever their age,
- Difficulty performing daily activities
- Reduced physical exercise
“Regarding the latter, many patients have expressed anxiety about the platelet count, a possible worsening of their disease, or even the possibility of death,” adds the expert.
Young women, the most affected
Immune thrombocytopenia is considered a strange illnessBetween 2 and 4 people per 100,000 inhabitants per year suffer from it. This makes it a little-known pathology which generates great uncertainty for the patient after diagnosis.
Concerning the type of patient who suffers from it, specialists establish two large groups:
- On the one hand, a “young woman whose work and social life, as well as her reproductive health, are affectedwhich requires good control to avoid metrorrhagia and strict monitoring in the event of pregnancy to avoid complications,” explains Dr. Pascual.
- On the other hand, “there is the group of men and women over 65 “They require precise control so that thrombocytopenia does not cause morbidity due to: the adjustment of the number of platelets, the different treatments they follow (in many cases, these are people taking multiple medications) and the vascular risk factors.”
We have already seen this in the case of In children, the disease usually disappearsr in most cases, but in the case of adults, chronification It occurs in 4 out of 10 patients.
Diagnosis and treatment
According to the president of GEPTI:
- “Diagnosis of immune thrombocytopenia remains a great challenge, due to lack of specific tests to detect it. Today we continue to make a diagnosis of exclusionthat is, it is achieved after excluding other diseases that also cause thrombocytopenia.
And some of the diagnostic tests that can complement conventional diagnostic tests are:
- Determination of cross-linked platelets
- Antiplatelet antibodies
- Desialylation of platelets.
The problem is that this type of test, “unfortunately, is not within the reach of any laboratory, so there is still a lot of progress to be made in the field”. diagnosis of immune thrombocytopenia“.
Regarding treatment, in the last 15 years new drugs have arrived aimed at different therapeutic targets that have contributed to improving disease control and, consequently, the patient’s quality of life.
- However, there are still people in whom the disease still cannot be controlled, which is why, splenectomy (removal of the spleen) continues to represent an effective and safe option.
“In the future, thanks to the numerous clinical trials carried out around the world, we will have new drugs that will allow us to treat patients in a more individualized way, adapting to the characteristics of the disease and the lifestyle of the no one who suffers from it,” concludes Cristina Pascual.