TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) is a rare blood disorder that is a true medical emergency. In TTP, blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body, which can block the flow of oxygen to the brain, kidneys, and heart. This clotting can damage critical organs like the brain and heart, and lead to potentially fatal complications.
A person with TTP may notice bruises with no obvious cause, and tiny red or purple spots that look like a rash. The skin may turn yellowish or look pale. Other symptoms could include fatigue, fever, bleeding from nose or gums, diarrhea, chest pain, abdominal pain, confusion, headaches, and visual changes.
Treatment of TTP is critical. With treatment, 80-90% of patients achieve remission. Of these, about 30% will relapse. Without treatment, 95% of patients die.
Typical treatment of TTP is plasma exchange, a procedure that removes the patient’s plasma and replaces it with donor plasma. A series of daily or every other day plasma exchanges is typically used.
Most patients receive steroids to slow the progression of TTP.
Other medications and/or removal of the spleen are used when patients fail to achieve remission.
Early detection is critical to minimize the risk of death or irreversible injury to vital organs.
Experts believe TTP is caused by a deficiency in the ADAMTS13 enzyme.
Some patients develop TTV after blood or marrow stem cell transplant, or during pregnancy. Patients who have HIV or cancer can develop TTP.
In addition, TTP sometimes follows a vaccine.
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