Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare blood condition, in which the number of blood platelets is significantly reduced. Although it only occurs in approximately 1 to 3 out of every million people each year, it is a very serious condition which can be fatal approximately 10% to 20% of the time.
TTP blood disease is associated with the formation of small clots in the blood circulation throughout the body. As a result, the body uses an abnormally high number of platelets, which significantly reduces the number of platelets in the blood stream. It is found most often in 20 to 40 year old adults, and is more likely to occur for women.
Although TTP can develop genetically as a child, adult-onset TTP has been linked to the development of an antibody which inhibits certain enzyme activity. Several medications have been shown to cause TTP, including:
- Plavix (clopidogrel)
- Oral birth control pills
- Neoral (cidosporin)
Individuals who are diagnosed with TTP after taking Plavix, have pursued lawsuits against the manufacturers, alleging that users were not adequately warned about this potential side effect. Although the percentage of patients who suffer Plavix TTP side effects is extremely small, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that Plavix increases the risk of TTP, even after using the blood thinner for only a short period of time.
The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are no longer pursuing new Plavix TTP cases. Content on this website is for informational purposes, outlining allegations and claims raised by former users of Plavix.
Initial symptoms of TTP are often confused with a stroke. The blood condition causes a disruption to the blood supply, which could cause the following early warning signs or symptoms of TTP:
- difficulty speaking
A TTP diagnosis is usually made based on observation of symptoms, which is followed up by blood tests. As the blood disease progresses, additional TTP symptoms could include bruising or bleeding which may be spontaneous. The most common sites of bleeding are from the nose or gums.
Treatment for TTP will involve treatment with a specialist (haematologist) and often requires hospitalization. In the past, the TTP fatality rate was over 80%. However, with proper treatments, the survival rate is now over 80%. The most common TTP treatment is a plasma exchange (plasmapheresis). A TTP plasma exchange involves the replacement of the victims plasma with donor plasma. It is usually necessary for the exchange to occur daily for at least a week.
Other initial TTP treatments could include:
- Red cell transfusion
- Folic acid supplements
- Platelet transfusions
- Hepatitis B vaccination
Subsequent TTP treatment possibilities could include:
- use of chemotherapy
- surgical removal of the spleen
- immunosuppressive drugs (azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, ciclosporin)