Hematocrit Blood Test Topic Guide
Hematocrit (Blood Test): A hematocrit blood test measures the portion of red blood cells in the blood. Normal values of hematocrit in the blood vary according to age, sex, pregnancy, altitude where a person lives, and vary slightly between testing methods. Causes of low hematocrit levels in the blood may be due to bleeding disorders, destruction of red blood cells, cancer, anemia, and overhydration. High hematocrit levels may be caused by dehydration, smoking, pulmonary conditions, COPD, sleep apnea, and polycythemia vera.
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Polycythemia Polycythemia is a condition in which there is an increased number of red blood cells in the blood. There are two types of polycythemia; 1) primary polycythemia and 2) secondary polycythemia. The two main conditions of primary polycythemia are polycythemia vera (PV) and primary familial and congenital polycythemia (PFCP). Causes of secondary polycythemia include conditions as a result of chronic hypoxia such as COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary hypertension, congestive heart failure, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain cancers. Examples of symptoms of polycythemia include easy bruising or bleeding, blood clot formation, headache, itching, and fatigue. Treatment for polycythemia depends on the cause. Untreated polycythemia generally has a poor outcome for the patient.