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Date of last update: 10/12/2017.

Forum Name: Hematology Topics

Question: Red Blood Cells high--Please help!

 jarheadvet - Wed Aug 24, 2005 6:32 am


I recently had two CBC's performed at two different labs. The first CBC was performed in an emergency room when I was there for severe abdominal pain (found out I have kidney stones). My RBC count there was 7.27 (with the normal range being up to 7.0). The second test was administered by my doctor at Lab Corp. My RBC count there (about four days after the emergency room visit) was 5.96 (with the normal range ending at 5.6). My doctor also tested for EPO levels (normal), TIBC (normal), Hb (normal), HCT (normal), MCV (normal), cell morphology (normal). basically all my CBC values were normal except for the RBC count. My doctor says he suspects polycythemia vera. Are my RBC's really that high?

I have been chronically dehydrated my adult life (now I am drinking 1 gallon H2O per day). I have type 2 diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Hashimoto's. I take Altace (2.5 mg), Levoxyl, Metformin (2x day). I recently had my blood pressure go up to 150/110. I am seeing my Dr. about the spike in blood pressure. I have had a headache for 2 days now and can't seem to shake it.

Does this sound like polycythemia vera? Everything I have read about it really scares me. I'm 41 with a wife and 2 small children. I am a former smoker (quit in 1988) and recently underwent lithotripsy.
 msmcfad - Sat Aug 27, 2005 4:56 pm

Actually, no, to me this does not definitely sound like PV, but I am not a doctor, just someone who went through all the testing for PV including a Red Cell Mass study and a Bone Marrow Biopsy only to find out I did not have PV. Usually one will see increases in HCT and HGB in addition to Red Cells, and also sometimes increases in WBC and platelets. I think it's too early to know if you have PV, or relative polycythemia or anything at all in addition to your kidney stone problem.

I am your same age with same family status and was scared at first. I've since found out that the statistics you see on the web are years old and based on a much older population. PVers now tend to live normal or near-normal lifespans.

Although many say the Bone Marrow Biopsy is the gold standard in testing for PV (soon to be replaced with the JAK mutation test of some sort), I actually learned something interesting from the Red Cell Mass study. In spite of drinking a gallon of water per day (something I've done for 10+ years), I have a slight dehydration showing in my plasma levels, making my red cell lines appear higher than they actually are. A bone marrow biopsy confirmed that I do not have PV.

Testing and testing through a hem/onc can get scary...and sometimes things are found that you weren't ever expecting to find. Happened to me. But I don't have PV!

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