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Platelet (PLT) Blood Test: What High and Low Platelet Count Means

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

blood samples assortment in lab

Platelets are components of the blood that take care of blood clotting to prevent bleeding (hemorrhage). Having too little or too many platelets could mean that you have an underlying condition related to cardiovascular dysfunction, infection, or other health issues. 

To determine if you have a normal range of platelets, a platelet blood test is necessary. Continue reading to learn what your test results mean.  

What Is a Platelet Blood Test? 

A platelet or PLT blood test is a standard inclusion of a complete blood count (CBC). It measures the number of platelets in the blood sample using electrical or optical sensors. In some cases, a medical technician will take a smear under a microscope to count the individual platelets. 

CBC is a blood test included in a routine wellness checkup or annual physical exam. By extension, so is a PLT blood test. However, your primary care provider may also request the test if you exhibit symptoms of a blood disorder, autoimmune disease, or other underlying medical issues.

For example, you may experience easy bruising, persistent nosebleeds, heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and swelling–all of which suggest platelet-related issues. These symptoms usually warrant a PLT blood test.

In addition, the platelet count is necessary before undergoing major surgery or when a patient receives chemotherapy or other medications. 

Also Read: 12 Tips for Getting Blood Drawn During a Lab Test

Normal Platelet Count

In a PLT blood test, the normal range for a platelet count is 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. However, some results may have a slightly different value reference depending on age and sex. 

Nonetheless, your test result will contain the range reference for the normal PLT blood test range. While the document will highlight a low or high platelet count, it’s imperative that your doctor interpret the figures. 

High Platelet Count Meaning

Going beyond the normal range of platelets suggests thrombocytosis. This condition is characterized by a high platelet count triggered by problems in the bone marrow or any condition that triggers its increased platelet production. 

These conditions are the basis for classifying thrombocytosis. Primary or essential thrombocythemia(1) can become a rare form of blood cancer. But one-third of the time, it remains benign without critical complications. There is more to understand about this condition, but it can be traced back to a genetic mutation, causing excessive formation of megakaryocytes, the progenitor cells for platelets. 

On the other hand, secondary thrombocytosis(2) occurs as an offshoot reaction from a medical problem. The high platelet count can be triggered by infection, some types of cancer, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Risks of High Platelet Count

Increased platelet production is usually not concerning unless it happens too often. Platelet count at its peak can impact blood clotting activities. 

For example, if the number of platelets per microliter of blood exceeds one million, it can disrupt coagulation, changing the blood’s consistency from liquid to gel-like. Coagulation slows down the bleeding during injuries. Hence, excessive platelets can lead to bleeding profusely.

The most obvious impact of a high platelet count is increased clot formation, which blocks blood flow and causes cardiovascular problems. As such, consistently high platelet count can potentially lead to fatal complications in the form of the following:

  • Stroke 
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Heart attack
  • Certain bleeding disorders

Keep in mind that your actual risk for these complications depends on other factors as well. You may have a persistent high platelet count, but that doesn’t immediately equate to a life-threatening condition. However, your risk of blood clot complications increases if you already have heart disease or a blood disorder.    

How can I lower my platelets naturally?

Working with your doctor remains the most effective way to address high platelet count. However, you can supplement the treatment with certain lifestyle modifications, such as the following:

  • Stay hydrated: Water contributes to maintaining optimum blood health as it helps with regulating good viscosity(3). Follow the recommended water intake based on your tailored body requirements. 
  • Adjust your diet: As with every health issue, choosing the right food can support your treatment substantially. For elevated platelet count, go for foods that help reduce inflammation(4)(5) to avoid any triggers leading to platelet overproduction. These foods include whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. 
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake: Limiting alcohol consumption aids in managing your platelet count. However, sometimes, it’s just the bare minimum of lifestyle adjustments. For people with the highest risk of developing heart or liver disease, you may have to work your way to quitting alcohol completely. To know which route to take, make sure to consult your doctor. 
  • Understand drug interactions: If you are taking other medications, make sure to let your doctor know. Certain drugs can counteract with blood thinners(6) or medications for high platelet count. 

Low Platelet Count Meaning

When your PLT blood test shows a low platelet count, it suggests thrombocytopenia(7), in which there are below 150,000 platelets for every microliter of blood. This condition can be due to three possible scenarios. 

First, your bone marrow produces fewer platelets due to an underlying medical condition. Second, your platelets are destroyed at a faster rate. And third, both conditions are happening. It’s a combination of low production and rapid destruction of the platelets. 

Common causes of low platelet count include the following:

  • Bone marrow disorders
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Infections
  • Medications like heparin
  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Alcohol abuse

Risks of Low Platelet Count

A consistently dropping platelet count raises the risk of bleeding(8), as there are insufficient platelets to allow proper clotting. This condition can result in easy bruising, fatigue, and bleeding complications (e.g., nosebleeds, gum bleeding, and prolonged bleeding). 

How do you fix low platelets?

The best approach to treating low platelet count is to address the underlying cause. In doing so, you will need to work closely with your doctor. Supplementary actions complementing the treatment will ultimately depend on the low platelet causes.

For example, if the low platelet production is due to vitamin B12 deficiency(9), you’ll likely have to consume foods high in vitamin B12, such as leafy greens, beans, nuts, and whole grains. 

Also Read: The Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I check my platelet count at home?

There is no at-home platelet test that can provide an accurate result. The platelet count testing procedure requires specialized equipment, such as a microscope and device, to quantify platelets, and it must be done by a licensed medical technician. However, you can order a complete blood count online at Personalabs and choose a nearby partner lab.  

Does lack of sleep affect platelet count?

Yes, there is evidence that sleep deprivation can increase platelet count. It’s not yet clear how lack of sleep and platelet count rise are directly correlated. However, studies associate this connection with inflammation and high-stress hormone levels resulting from inadequate sleep. Both factors disrupt internal processes in the body, stimulating the production of platelets in the bone marrow. 

Can stress cause low platelets?

Stress does not cause low platelets. In fact, it’s usually the other way around. Stress increases platelet activity, making them more sticky and clumped together. Still, stress alone does not drive low platelets. But, it does aggravate underlying medical conditions that directly impact platelet production. 

The Bottom Line

When your platelet blood test results are outside the normal range, the next best thing to do is work with your healthcare provider. In some cases, it might be temporary. However, it’s also likely that the abnormality in platelet production is due to a serious medical condition. Doing so allows you to prevent complications involving clotting risks and blood disorders. 


1 Babakhanlou R, Masarova L, Verstovsek S. A review of essential thrombocythemia and its complications. Clin Adv Hematol Oncol. 2023 Feb;21(2):76-84. PMID: 36780473.

2 Rokkam VR, Killeen RB, Kotagiri R. Secondary Thrombocytosis. [Updated 2023 Mar 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560810/

3 Sugaya K, Nishijima S, Oda M, Miyazato M, Ogawa Y. Change of blood viscosity and urinary frequency by high water intake. Int J Urol. 2007 May;14(5):470-2. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2042.2006.01734.x. PMID: 17511740.

4 Qian H, Chen R, Wang B, Yuan X, Chen S, Liu Y, Shi G. Associations of Platelet Count with Inflammation and Response to Anti-TNF-α Therapy in Patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Front Pharmacol. 2020 Nov 6;11:559593. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.559593. PMID: 33343345; PMCID: PMC7741170.

5 Sonmez O, Sonmez M. Role of platelets in immune system and inflammation. Porto Biomed J. 2017 Nov-Dec;2(6):311-314. doi: 10.1016/j.pbj.2017.05.005. Epub 2017 Oct 12. PMID: 32258788; PMCID: PMC6806752.

6 Bolbrinker J, Garbe E, Douros A, Huber M, Bronder E, Klimpel A, Andersohn F, Meyer O, Salama A, Kreutz R. Immobilization and high platelet count are associated with thromboembolic complications in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2017 Oct;26(10):1149-1155. doi: 10.1002/pds.4235. Epub 2017 May 24. PMID: 28544026.

7 Jinna S, Khandhar PB. Thrombocytopenia. [Updated 2023 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542208/

8 Piel-Julian ML, Mahévas M, Germain J, Languille L, Comont T, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Payrastre B, Beyne-Rauzy O, Michel M, Godeau B, Adoue D, Moulis G; CARMEN investigators group. Risk factors for bleeding, including platelet count threshold, in newly diagnosed immune thrombocytopenia adults. J Thromb Haemost. 2018 Sep;16(9):1830-1842. doi: 10.1111/jth.14227. Epub 2018 Aug 12. PMID: 29978544.

9 Khan MAN, Ghani U, Surani S, Aftab A. Vitamin B12 Deficiency, a Rare Cause of Isolated Thrombocytopenia in Adults. Cureus. 2023 Aug 26;15(8):e44162. doi: 10.7759/cureus.44162. PMID: 37753039; PMCID: PMC10519260.

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