MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.
What is the treatment for polycythemia?
The treatment for polycythemia is generally dependent on the cause.
In polycythemia vera or other primary polycythemia syndromes, the treatment options are more specific. Phlebotomy (drawing blood or blood letting) is the most essential part of the treatment. The recommended hematocrit of less than 45 in men and less than 42 in women is the goal of phlebotomy.
Several medications have been considered in conjunction with phlebotomy to suppress the abnormal production of red blood cells. Most of these chemotherapeutic drugs have been linked with side effects and their use has been controversial and limited.
The medication hydroxyurea (Hydrea) has been recommended for some patients with primary polycythemia and higher risk of blood clot formation due to high blood viscosity. The factors favoring treatment with hydroxyurea are age greater than 70, platelet count greater than 1.5 million, and general cardiovascular risk factors.
Aspirin and other anti-platelet agents (dipyridamole) may also be beneficial in patients with polycythemia by reducing clotting complications, unless the patient has a history of bleeding problems.
In patients with secondary polycythemia, the goal is to treat the underlying condition. For example, in patients with lung or heart disease with hypoxia, appropriate management of these conditions along with oxygen supplementation is generally advised.