Hematocrit (Hct) Levels
This is the ratio of the volume of red cells to the volume of whole blood. Normal range for hematocrit is different between the sexes and is approximately 45% to 52% for men and 37% to 48% for women. This is usually measured by spinning down a sample of blood in a test tube, which causes the red blood cells to pack at the bottom of the tube.
The hematocrit is the proportion, by volume, of the blood that consists of red blood cells. The hematocrit (hct) is expressed as a percentage. For example, a hematocrit of 25% means that there are 25 milliliters of red blood cells in 100 milliliters of blood.
How is the hematocrit measured?
The hematocrit is typically measured from a blood sample by an automated machine that makes several other measurements of the blood at the same time. Most of these machines in fact do not directly measure the hematocrit, but instead calculate it based on the determination of the amount of hemoglobin and the average volume of the red blood cells. The hematocrit can also be determined by a manual method using a centrifuge. When a tube of blood is centrifuged, the red cells will be packed into the bottom of the tube. The proportion of red cells to the total blood volume can then be visually measured.
Picture of Red Blood Cells
Reviewed on 10/29/2015
Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine
Braunwald, Eugene, et al. Harrisons's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2008.