Essential thrombocythemia (ET) can sometimes lead to the following health complications.
Patients with ET are at risk of developing thrombosis (abnormal clotting). Thrombosis can be serious if the clot blocks blood flow to an organ, such as the brain (causing a stroke) or heart (causing a heart attack). Older patients with underlying vascular disease and very high platelet counts (1,000,000 per microliter of blood and above) may be at highest risk of thrombosis, but there's no definitive way to gauge risk. Clotting complications can occur in patients with a slightly elevated platelet count.
Uncontrolled ET can cause pregnancy complications, including:
- Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)
- Fetal growth retardation
- Premature delivery
- Placental abruption (premature separation of the placenta and uterus)
Occasionally, ET can transform into another myeloproliferative neoplasm. The disease can also transform into acute leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes or more serious bone marrow cancers, but this is a very uncommon occurrence.