Genetic tests (to look for a change in the JAK2 gene)
Uric acid level
If you have life-threatening complications, you may have a treatment called platelet pheresis. It quickly reduces platelets in the blood.
Long-term, medicines are used to decrease the platelet count to avoid complications. The most common medicines used include hydroxyurea, interferon-alpha, or anagrelide. In some people with a JAK2 mutation, specific inhibitors of the JAK2 protein may be used.
In people who are at a high risk for clotting, aspirin at a low dose (81 to 100 mg per day) decreases clotting episodes. People who may benefit from this treatment include older people and people with very high platelet levels or who have had past clotting episodes.
Many people do not need any treatment, but they must be followed closely by their provider.
While outcomes can vary, most people can go for long periods without complications and have a normal lifespan. In a small number of people, complications from bleeding and blood clots can cause serious problems.
In rare cases, the disease can change into acute leukemia or myelofibrosis.
Rita Nanda, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.