What is TTP?
TTP stands for “Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura”. It is a rare blood disorder involving the formation of thromboses or blood clots in blood vessels, especially the small ones. This blood disorder is said to cause low platelet levels, which is called “thrombocytopenia”.
TTP is due to a defect in the body’s blood coagulation system. Particularly, the enzyme ADAMTS13, is mostly blamed to cause the blood clotting incidents in smaller blood vessels. Low or not-enough levels of this enzyme is said to lead to increased blood clots. Usually what happens is that the platelets tend to accumulate in the smaller blood vessels to form the clots. And when this happens, less and less platelet will be circulating in the blood. This condition will then result to some bleeding just under the skin and these will show off as purple spots or areas called purpura.
Symptoms of TTP include skin bleeding or bleeding on the mucous membranes, easy fatigability, headache, confusion, increased heart rate or tachycardia, purpura or purple spots on the skin, weakness, change in consciousness, breathing difficulties, and sometimes jaundice. Diagnosis is done through several blood tests like CBC, bilirubin, platelet tests, and creatinine tests. Some doctors also require urinalysis, blood smears, and mucous membrane biopsy.
TTP is said to be a genetic type of disorder or illness. Meaning this blood disorder may be inherited by children from their parents. Others relate this illness to other serious illnesses such as HIV or AIDS and cancer. Treatment of this condition is through a process called “plasmapheresis”. This involves the removal of the abnormal components in the blood and replacing them with the lacking enzyme for normal blood clotting. This particular procedure is done daily and is continued until normal levels of blood components are reflected on blood tests. Some people are prescribed with certain medications while others will have surgical removal of the spleen.