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- Patient Comments: Polycythemia (High Red Blood Cell Count) - Cause
- Patient Comments: Polycythemia - Experience
- Patient Comments: Polycythemia - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Polycythemia - Treatment
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- Polycythemia facts
- What is polycythemia?
- What are normal ranges of hematocrit, red cell counts, and hemoglobin?
- What causes polycythemia?
- What are the causes of primary polycythemia?
- What are the common causes of secondary polycythemia?
- Can other sources of erythropoietin (EPO) cause polycythemia?
- What is relative polycythemia?
- What are the risk factors for polycythemia?
- What is stress polycythemia?
- What are the symptoms of polycythemia?
- When should I see a doctor about polycythemia?
- How is polycythemia diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for polycythemia?
- What are the complications of polycythemia?
- Can polycythemia be prevented?
- What is the outlook (prognosis) for polycythemia?
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Can polycythemia be prevented?
- Polycythemia due to a secondary cause such as long standing smoking or exposure to carbon monoxide can be prevented by omitting these risks.
- Reducing risk factors for heart failure, such as, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus, can potentially reduce the risk of polycythemia.
- Congenital and primary polycythemia disorders, however, are not preventable.
What is the outlook (prognosis) for polycythemia?
The outlook on polycythemia depends on the underlying cause. Overall the general outlook is favorable for people with this condition, especially those with secondary causes. The outlook for primary polycythemia is fair. While it is typically incurable and long-standing, for many people, it is controllable and treatable. For example, untreated, polycythemia vera (PV) was initially thought to have a poor prognosis with a life expectancy of one to two years from the time of diagnosis. However, polycythemia vera prognosis is now greatly improved to 10-15 years survival after diagnosis with treatment by phlebotomy alone. The addition of medications, such as, hydroxyurea or aspirin may improve survival even more.
Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine
Ma X, Vanasse G, Cartmel B, Wang Y, Selinger HA.;Prevalence of polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia.Am J Hematol. 2008 May;83(5):359-62. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21129.Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Spivak, JL, Silver, RT, The revised World Health Organization diagnostic criteria for polycythemia vera, essential thrombocytosis, and primary myelofibrosis: an alternative proposal http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/content/112/2/231.full.
Medscape. "Polycythemia, Secondary."
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.