Primary polycythemias are due to factors intrinsic to red cell precursors. Polycythemia vera (PCV), polycythemia rubra vera (PRV), or erythremia, occurs when excess red blood cells are produced as a result of an abnormality of the bone marrow. Often, excess white blood cells and platelets are also produced.
What are the signs and symptoms of polycythemia?
Common symptoms of polycythemia vera (PV) include:
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Itching (especially after a warm shower)
- Sweating (at night or during the day)
- Blurred vision or blind spots.
- Painful burning or numbness of the hands or feet.
- Bleeding from the gums and heavy bleeding from small cuts.
- Bone pain.
Polycythemia may be diagnosed incidentally on routine blood work. Hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell concentration are typically found on a complete blood count (CBC). Repeating the laboratory tests (blood work) to confirm the diagnosis is usually advised to rule out possible laboratory or drawing errors.
Polycythemia is an increase in red blood cells circulating in the blood stream. This increases the viscosity of the blood which can cause high blood pressure due to the increase need to pump thicker blood through the circulatory system. The increased retention of water and salt increases blood pressure.
High hemoglobin count occurs less commonly because: Your red blood cell production increases to compensate for chronically low blood oxygen levels due to poor heart or lung function. You have a bone marrow dysfunction that results in increased production of red blood cells.
Primary polycythemia is one of the chronic myeloproliferative disorders called as polycythemia vera. Polycythemia should be suspected when there is an elevated level of hemoglobin or hematocrit on normal oxygen saturation. However, as in the case discussed above, the finding can be masked in severe anemia.
Treatment might include:
- Taking blood out of your veins. Drawing some blood out of your veins in a procedure called phlebotomy is usually the first treatment option for people with polycythemia vera.
- Low-dose aspirin.
- Medication to decrease blood cells.
- Medication to destroy cancer cells.
- Therapy to reduce itching.
Polycythemia vera is one of a group of blood cancers known as myeloproliferative neoplasms. But in polycythemia vera, your bone marrow makes too many of some blood cells. The mutation that causes polycythemia vera is thought to affect a protein switch that tells the cells to grow.
If you suffer from polycythemia vera, which is a serious disease that can result in death, you may be unable to work. In those situations, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If you suffer from this condition, your body creates too many red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells.
Absolute polycythemia refers to an increase in red cell mass from any cause. Relative polycythemia refers to a loss of plasma volume causing an elevated hematocrit. Symptoms. The symptoms of primary and secondary polycythemia are much the same.
There are two main types: primary polycythaemia – there's a problem in the cells produced by the bone marrow that become red blood cells; the most common type is known as polycythaemia vera (PV) secondary polycythaemia – too many red blood cells are produced as the result of an underlying condition.
A high hematocrit with a high RBC count and high hemoglobin indicates polycythemia. Dehydration—this is the most common cause of a high hematocrit. As the volume of fluid in the blood drops, the RBCs per volume of fluid artificially rises; with adequate fluid intake, the hematocrit returns to normal.
Definition. Secondary polycythemia is an acquired form of a rare disorder characterized by an abnormal increase in the number of mature red cells in the blood. Secondary polycythemia is also called secondary erythrocytosis.
medical Definition of polycythemia. : a condition marked by an abnormal increase in the number of circulating red blood cells; especially : polycythemia vera — compare erythrocytosis.
Polycythemia is an increased number of red blood cells in the blood. In polycythemia, the levels of hemoglobin (Hgb), hematocrit (Hct), or the red blood cell (RBC) count may be elevated when measured in the complete blood count (CBC), as compared to normal.
Most cases of polycythemia vera are not inherited. This condition is associated with genetic changes that are somatic, which means they are acquired during a person's lifetime and are present only in certain cells. In rare instances, polycythemia vera has been found to run in families.
Causes of a high hematocrit include: Dehydration (heat exhaustion, no available source of fluids) Low availability of oxygen (smoking, high altitude, pulmonary fibrosis) Genetic (congenital heart diseases) Erythrocytosis (over-production of red blood cells by the bone marrow or polycythemia vera)
The signs and symptoms of PV include: Headaches, dizziness, and weakness. Shortness of breath and problems breathing while lying down. Feelings of pressure or fullness on the left side of the abdomen due to an enlarged spleen (an organ in the abdomen)
Secondary polycythemia most often develops as a response to chronic hypoxemia, which triggers increased production of erythropoietin by the kidneys. The most common causes of secondary polycythemia include obstructive sleep apnea, obesity hypoventilation syndrome, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Polycythemia vera affects slightly more men than women. The disorder is estimated to affect approximately 2 people per 100,000 in the general population. It occurs most often in individuals more than 60 years old, but can affect individuals of any age. It is extremely rare in individuals under 20.
A high RBC count may be a result of sleep apnea, pulmonary fibrosis, and other conditions that cause low oxygen levels in the blood. Performance-enhancing drugs like protein injections and anabolic steroids can also increase RBCs. Kidney disease and kidney cancers can lead to high RBC counts as well.
A high hemoglobin count indicates an above-normal level of hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin (often abbreviated as Hb or Hgb) is the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. It's generally defined as more than 17.5 grams (g) of hemoglobin per deciliter (dL) of blood for men and 15.5 g/dL for women.