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Platelet E-News – April 16, 2003

This e-newsletter is a monthly publication of The Platelet Disorder Support Association. The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. For advice on your unique medical condition, please consult a health care professional.


  • Thrombopoietins May Benefit ITP
  • Autoimmune Disease and Heart Attack Risk
  • Managing ITP – Journal Article
  • Autoimmune Diseases and Gulf War Illnesses
  • Blood Toxins Increasing
  • Building a Better IV
  • Hospitals Offer Holistic Care
  • States Can Force HMO’s to Accept Any Qualified Doctor



Thrombopoietin treatment may hold promise in raising platelet counts for various types of thrombocytopenia Dr. David Kuter reported at the American Society of Hematology meeting held Dec. 6, 2002. In a limited research study reported in the journal Blood, several patients with ITP had a rise in platelet count after receiving the PEG-rHuMGDF form of thrombopoietin (platelet growth factor). In other studies thrombopoietin raised platelet counts in some patients with thrombocytopenia due to cancer treatments and HIV. The PEG-rHuMGDF form of thrombopoietin is no longer being developed in North America due to anti-body formation. Research here has shifted to rHuTPO, more nearly like native thrombopoietin.

Hem/Onc Today ASH Symposia Highlights April 2003

Blood. 2002; 100(2): 728-730


Female rheumatoid arthritis patients might consider consulting a doctor about aggressive monitoring and treatment of heart disease risk factors, according to a study reported in online versions of the February issue of Circulation. Circulation reports women with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, had twice the risk of heart attack compared to those who did not have the disease. The Merck-supported study looked at heart attacks in 114,342 women, 527 of which developed rheumatoid arthritis in 20-year follow-up. Past studies have found that inflammation of the joints can lead to fatty buildup in blood vessels.

Washington Post

(Note: ITP is also an autoimmune disease. Although platelets are low, patients with ITP can still have heart disease)


“Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura: Pathophysiology and Management” by Yeon S. Ahn and Lawrence L. Horstman published in the International Journal of Hematology is available on the web. See:

Our thanks to one of our discussion group members for finding and posting this link. See


Stress and the “nerve gas pill” (pyridostigmine bromide, PB, NAPS) are two main potentially explanatory factors in the Gulf War cluster of illnesses. The diseases are mostly common ailments occurring at a high level of incidence and possibly the result of the mixture of acute chemical and physiological stressors that could begin an automimmue response in some organs, tissues, or cells. Veterans of the Gulf War were exposed to these elements in a shorter time, in greater intensity, and at a higher percent of exposure than the general population. Studying these experiences may serve to help prevent or possibly treat diseases linked to these risk factors.

Med Hypotheses 2001 Feb;56(2):15


Most Americans carry a whole new set of toxins in their blood compared to 40 or 50 years ago, says Mount Sinai School of Medicine pediatrician Philip Landrigan, commenting on two new studies of the prevalence in the human body of more than 100 chemicals, including phthalates, DDT, lead and other metals. The CDC and the Washington, DC-based Environmental Group performed the studies separately. “As a society, we are still treating chemicals as if they are innocent [safe] until proven guilty [unsafe],” says Tufts University endocrinologist Ana Soto. Children who eat organically grown fruits and vegetables have only one-sixth the concentrations of organophosphate pesticide byproducts in their urine as children who eat conventionally grown produce reports Cynthia Curl of the University of Washington.

Science News February 22, 2003 Vol 163 pg. 120


New technology expert David Bates of the Brigham and Womens’ Hospital in Boston is studying “smart pumps,” or improved IV technology in the hospital’s cardiac units. The devices, intended to reduce medical errors and drug overdoses, can be programmed with hospital guidelines and warn caregivers who violate the guidelines or stop delivering treatments completely. Smart-pump designer Alaris Medical Inc. is offering the market an option for addressing what they count as about one life-threatening IV mistake every two and one half days. The pumps cost $1.2 million for the average hospital, making the technology not yet widely available.

Wall Street Journal 3/26/03 Laura Landro


Almost 100 U.S. hospitals offer alternative or complementary treatments, and that is a number that was fewer than a dozen three years ago. The institutions say they are just responding to patient demand, according to experts, despite some concern that these treatments might only offer false hope. People in the U.S. make about 600 million visits a year to unconventional caregivers, while hospital facilities report a doubling or tripling of patients who seek care for automimmune and other diseases. Treatments include acupuncture, Reiki, aromatherapy, and different forms of meditation.

The Holistic Hospital 3/28/03 pg. W1


On April 3, 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that sates can require managed care health plans to accept any qualified doctor who wants to participate in their health plan, upholding a Kentucky law. While about half the states have “any willing provider” laws most apply only to pharmacies rather than the full range of medical care. States have become more active in passing health care legislation because of the stalemate at the federal level.

New York Times, April 3, 2003