What Does High Red Blood Cell Count Indicate – Don’t miss our biggest sale of the year, save 60% off all plans! Sale ends November 27 at 11:59 PM PT

Polycythemia is a blood disorder in which the number of red blood cells (RBC) in the body increases. Red blood cells are mainly responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body through the circulatory system. Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, where hematopoietic stem cells are stimulated by erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys. Polycythemia can be triggered by either increased erythropoietin production or excessive division of hematopoietic stem cells, leading to increased RBC production. As a result, blood thickens which can lead to congestion in peripheral organs. In particular, the spleen, which is responsible for RBC destruction, may become enlarged.

What Does High Red Blood Cell Count Indicate

What Does High Red Blood Cell Count Indicate

Polycythemia is a general term for all conditions that result in high red blood cell counts, whereas polycythemia vera is used to describe only primary polycythemia. Primary polycythemia is a rare blood disorder in which the polycythemia is not the result of another condition (secondary polycythemia).

The gene codes for a non-receptor tyrosine kinase, an enzyme that transfers a phosphate group from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to another molecule to help regulate cell division. When there is a

Mutation, this process can be uncontrolled. As a result, hematopoietic stem cell division and differentiation are unregulated. They can later differentiate into many types of blood cells, primarily RBCs, white blood cells, and platelets.

On the other hand, secondary polycythemia results from another underlying condition. Secondary polycythemia is usually associated with low oxygen levels from tissue hypoxia, which can stimulate the kidneys to increase erythropoietin production. Common causes of this hypoxia include high altitude, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cyanotic heart disease. In addition, conditions that directly affect the kidneys (eg, renal artery stenosis, renal cysts, and renal tumors) can also cause increased erythropoietin production. Side effects of certain hormone-related drugs, such as erythropoietin analogs, anabolic steroids, and testosterone, can also cause polycythemia. Rarely, tumors such as hepatocellular carcinoma can secrete erythropoietin, causing polycythemia.

Risk factors for all types of polycythemia include obesity, smoking, chronic alcoholism, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Specific risk factors for primary polycythemia include being assigned male at birth or being older than 50.

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Early signs and symptoms of polycythemia include fatigue, headache, dizziness, and episodic blurred vision. Individuals may also experience peripheral tingling, or a burning sensation, and itching after a hot shower or bath. Other signs and symptoms may include hypertension, mucosal cyanosis, bruising, and petechiae (ie, red and flat patches on the skin). During abdominal palpation, an enlarged spleen or liver may be felt.

Polycythemia can also cause complications related to organ congestion and blood density or viscosity. Individuals are at high risk of blood clots, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis, stroke, myocardial infarction, and angina pectoris. Rapid blood cell turnover also increases the body’s production of uric acid, which leads to the formation of kidney stones and gout (ie, uric acid-induced inflammation of the joints). Additionally, increased inflammation can cause problems in the gastrointestinal system, including the development of peptic ulcers. Over time, if polycythemia vera is not well controlled, the bone marrow can become filled with scar tissue and eventually RBC production will decrease. This can lead to the development of myelofibrosis, a cancer of the bone marrow, with symptoms such as weakness and fatigue.

Diagnosis of polycythemia begins with a thorough review of signs and symptoms and medical history, and a physical examination. Subsequently, blood tests are usually performed. A complete blood count can confirm suspicion of an increased red blood cell count, as it usually shows an increase in hematocrit and hemoglobin. With primary polycythemia, white blood cell and platelet counts may also be elevated. Genetic testing for a

What Does High Red Blood Cell Count Indicate

Mutation can also confirm primary polycythemia. Elevated serum levels of erythropoietin can confirm various causes of secondary polycythemia. Additionally, imaging, including X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI, may be used to identify underlying pulmonary or cardiac causes of secondary polycythemia.

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The goal of polycythemia treatment is to reduce the production of red blood cells. For secondary polycythemia, treatment of the underlying condition is essential. In general, phlebotomy can be used to remove blood from the body and initially reduce blood viscosity and volume. It is then recommended that individuals take aspirin to increase fluid intake and prevent blood clots. Treatment may also include myelosuppressive agents, such as hydroxyurea, to suppress bone marrow production of RBCs.

Polycythemia is a blood disorder characterized by overproduction of red blood cells. Two types, primary and secondary. Primary polycythemia, or polycythemia vera, is usually caused by an acquired

Mutation Secondary polycythemia is polycythemia that develops secondary to another condition that causes erythropoietin production and hematopoietic stem cell stimulation, such as tissue hypoxia, kidney disease, and side effects of certain drugs. Common signs and symptoms include fatigue, headache, episodic blurred vision, and dizziness. Diagnosis involves a medical evaluation followed by blood tests that confirm an elevated RBC count. Treatment includes removal of blood by phlebotomy, increased fluid intake, aspirin administration, and either suppressing bone marrow RBC production or treating the underlying condition.

Haider, M., and Anwar, F. (2022, January 5). Secondary polycythemia. In StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from https://www.statpearls.com/articlelibrary/viewarticle/27405/

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Harding, M. M., Kwong, J., Roberts, D., Hagler, D., & Reinisch, C. (2020). Lewis’s Medical-Surgical Nursing: Assessment and Management of Clinical Problems (11th ed.). Elsevier.

Mayo Clinic. (2022, February 11). Polycythemia vera – symptoms and causes. At the Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/polycythemia-vera/symptoms-causes/syc-20355850.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2022, March 24). Polycythemia vera. At the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/polycythemia-vera

What Does High Red Blood Cell Count Indicate

Pillai, A.A., Fazal, S., and Babikar, H.M. (2021, November 3). Polycythemia. In StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved January 29, 2022 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526081/ Don’t miss our biggest sale of the year, save 60% off all plans! Sale ends November 27 at 11:59 PM PT

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Hematocrit (HCT) refers to the proportion of red blood cells (RBCs) in a person’s blood. Adults with XY chromosomes typically have an HCT that ranges from 40% to 54%, and adults with XX chromosomes have an HCT that ranges from 36% to 48%. In addition to RBCs, blood contains three other major components: white blood cells, platelets, and plasma.

Hematocrit measures the percentage of red blood cells in the total blood volume. A hematocrit test can be performed using a capillary tube and a centrifuge machine (ie, a machine that uses centrifugal force to separate blood substances due to their different concentrations). Usually, hematocrit levels are determined as part of a complete blood count (CBC), but they can also be tested alone. However, a CBC is the most common blood test that measures HCT while measuring red blood cell count, white blood cell count, hemoglobin levels, and platelets.

Hematocrit is a very useful laboratory finding because having too few or too many RBCs can be a clinical indication of various medical conditions such as anemia or polycythemia, respectively. It can also be used to monitor individuals after surgery to prevent or screen for complications such as internal bleeding.

Low hematocrit levels, also known as anemia, can result from decreased production of RBCs, increased blood loss, increased destruction of RBCs, or a combination of these.

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The most common cause of a low hematocrit level is chronic (eg, ulcer, colon cancer) or acute (eg, trauma, internal bleeding) bleeding, which leads to significant blood loss. Notably, individuals of reproductive age who are assigned as female at birth may have a low hematocrit due to menstruation. However, peripheral destruction of RBCs can also decrease hematocrit in conditions such as sickle cell anemia, where RBCs have a short life span; and splenomegaly (ie, enlargement of the spleen), in which large numbers of healthy RBCs are destroyed in the spleen. Another cause of low hematocrit is decreased production of RBCs, as seen in chronic inflammatory diseases, or bone marrow suppression due to drugs such as radiation therapy, malignancies, or chemotherapy. Finally, malnutrition (eg, iron, B12, and folate deficiencies) as well as overhydration can also lower hematocrit levels.

Due to fluid loss from dehydration, repeated vomiting, overheating, or limited access to fluids, blood clots may occur. In addition, low oxygen availability can cause new blood cell production to transport oxygen throughout the body and can be caused by smoking; high altitude; congenital heart disease; or certain pulmonary disorders, such as pulmonary fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Also, polycythemia vera, which is characterized by overproduction of RBCs as a result of increased bone marrow stimulation (ie, myeloproliferation), can cause high hematocrit levels. Similarly, increased erythropoietin production due to androgen use or erythropoietin production from kidney, liver, and ovarian tumors may also increase hematocrit. Finally, various pathologies of the endocrine system, such as Cushing’s syndrome, can also result in high hematocrit levels.

Hematocrit measures the percentage of red blood cells in the total blood volume. A

What Does High Red Blood Cell Count Indicate

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