Anemia

What is hemoglobin?

Hemoglobin is a red pigment that imparts the familiar red color to red blood cells and to blood. Functionally, hemoglobin is the key chemical compound that combines with oxygen from the lungs and carries the oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body. Oxygen is essential for all cells in the body to produce energy.

The blood also transports carbon dioxide, which is the waste product of this energy production process, back to the lungs from which it is exhaled into the air. The transport of the carbon dioxide back to the lung is also achieved by hemoglobin. The carbon dioxide bound to hemoglobin is unloaded in the lungs in exchange for oxygen to be transported to the tissues of the body.

What does a low hemoglobin level mean?

Low hemoglobin is called anemia. When there is a low hemoglobin level, there is often a low red blood cell count and a low hematocrit, too. Reference ranges are slightly different from one source to another, but typically hemoglobin of less than 13.5 gram/100 ml is abnormal in men and less than 12.0 gram/100 ml in women.

Reviewed on 3/26/2012

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