Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) is a rare blood disorder; it is serious and potentially fatal for those who get it. TTP involves the formation of blood clots in the body’s small blood vessels; the clots can limit or block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s organs, such as the brain, kidneys, and heart. As a result, serious health problems can develop, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The increased clotting associated with TTP, also uses up the blood’s platelets; with fewer platelets available in the blood, bleeding problems can occur. People who have TTP may bleed inside their bodies, underneath the skin, or from the surface of the skin. When cut or injured, they also may bleed longer than normal.
Bleeding under the skin also can cause tiny red or purple dots on the skin. These pinpoint-sized dots are called petechiae (peh-TEE-kee-ay). Petechiae may look like a rash.
Blood-thinner medication Plavix Linked to TTP
TTP also is considered a side effect of Plavix (generic: clopidogrel bisulfate) use. Users of Plavix – a blood thinner approved for the purpose of preventing blood clots, heart attacks and strokes – have an increased risk of moderate and serious bleeding. Several studies, in fact, have found that Plavix users have an alarmingly high rate of hemorrhaging, cerebral and gastrointestinal bleeding, and TTP. The cerebral and gastrointestinal bleeding were considered to be serious enough to be life-threatening, according to the studies.
Initial TTP Symptoms Include Malaise, Fever and Headaches
TTP symptoms can be subtle at first, causing the patient to initially suffer from malaise, fever, headaches and, in some cases, diarrhea. As the condition progresses, clots will begin to form within blood vessels, consuming platelets. Clots that form within the circulation system can temporarily disrupt local blood supply. TTP preferentially affects the blood vessels of the brain and kidneys, affecting the patient who, after the initial wave of subtle symptoms, may start to experience:
- Difficulty Speaking
- Transient paralysis
A diagnosis of TTP is made based upon observation of symptoms followed by blood tests. As the disease progresses, other symptoms may include spontaneous bruising or bleeding. The most common bleeding sites are the nose and gums.
Treating TTP Often Requires Hospitalization
TTP treatment typically involves meeting with a blood disorder specialist (hematologist) and may require hospitalization. The most common treatment for TTP involves removal of the body’s plasma, which is then treated and returned to the body (plasmapheresis); this usually happens on a daily basis for about a week. Other methods of TTP treatment could include:
- Corticosteroids – used in combination with plasma exchange
- Transfusion of red blood cells
- Folic Acid – vitamin required for healthy formation of red blood cells
- Platelets may be given if bleeding is life threatening
- Vaccination for Hepatitis B – Plasma exchange requires multiple blood donors. While all blood is screened, there is a small risk of acquiring the disease; the vaccination should be given as soon as practical
Support Group for TTP Sufferers
Whether you have just been diagnosed with TTP or are starting to see signs of recovery from the blood disease, you have a long road ahead of you, and support groups often can play a strong role in your process. For TTP sufferers there is the TTP Network.
Legal Assistance for Victims of TTP
If you or a loved one took Plavix and have been diagnosed with TTP, our lawyers would like to hear from you. Please contact our lawyers today, either by completing our online form or contacting us by phone at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).