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What is low hematocrit: Hematocrit and Hemoglobin

Hematocrit

Does this test have other names?

HCT, packed cell volume, PCV

What is this test?

This test measures how much of your blood is made up of red blood cells.

Normal blood contains white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and the fluid portion called plasma. The word hematocrit means to separate blood. In this test, your red blood cells are separated from the rest of your blood so they can be measured.

Your hematocrit (HCT) shows whether you have a normal amount of red blood cells, too many, or too few. To measure your HCT, your blood sample is spun at a high speed to separate the red blood cells.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if it is part of routine blood testing. You may also need your HCT checked before having surgery or if your healthcare provider suspects you have a red blood cell disorder. Too many red blood cells is called polycythemia. Too few red blood cells is called anemia.

Polycythemia may cause:

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • Headache

  • Blurred vision

  • Itching

  • Dizziness

Anemia can be caused by blood loss, your body making fewer red blood cells, or increased destruction of red blood cells. Symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Cold, pale skin

  • Chest pain

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also order a complete blood count (CBC), which is a blood test that counts all the different types of cells in your blood.

Your healthcare provider may also order a test that measures your hemoglobin to find out how much oxygen your red blood cells are carrying.

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, and other things. Your test results may be different depending on the lab used. They may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

Results are given as a percentage. Normal HCT values are different for men, women, and children. Normal values are:

If your HCT is high, it may mean your body is making too many red blood cells. Your HCT may also be high if your plasma or blood volume is too low. This can happen when you are dehydrated or in shock.

If your HCT is low, it means you may have:

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Living at a high altitude may cause your HCT to be higher than normal. Being pregnant or being older than age 60 can cause your HCT to be lower than normal.

Certain medicines can also affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don’t need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don’t need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use.

Online Medical Reviewer:
Chad Haldeman-Englert MD

Online Medical Reviewer:
Raymond Turley Jr PA-C

Online Medical Reviewer:
Tara Novick BSN MSN



Date Last Reviewed:
9/1/2022



© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

Hematocrit | Saint Luke’s Health System

Does this test have other names?

HCT, packed cell volume, PCV

What is this test?

This test measures how much of your blood is made up of red blood cells.

Normal blood contains white blood
cells, red blood cells, platelets, and the fluid portion called plasma. The word
hematocrit means to separate blood. In this test,
your red blood cells are separated from the rest of your blood so they can be
measured.

Your hematocrit (HCT) shows whether you have a normal amount of red blood cells, too
many, or too few. To measure your HCT, your blood sample is spun at a high speed to
separate the red blood cells.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if it is
part of routine blood testing. You may also need your HCT checked before having surgery
or if your healthcare provider suspects you have a red blood cell disorder. Too many
red
blood cells is called polycythemia. Too few red blood cells is called anemia.

Polycythemia may cause:

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • Headache

  • Blurred vision

  • Itching
  • Dizziness

Anemia can be caused by blood loss, your body making fewer red blood cells, or increased
destruction of red blood cells. Symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Cold, pale skin

  • Chest pain

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also
order a complete blood count (CBC), which is a blood test that counts all the different
types of cells in your blood.

Your healthcare provider may also order a test that measures your hemoglobin to find
out how much oxygen your red blood cells are carrying.

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, and other things.
Your test results may be different depending on the lab used. They may not mean you
have
a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

Results are given as a percentage.
Normal HCT values are different for men, women, and children. Normal values are:

If your HCT is high, it may mean
your body is making too many red blood cells. Your HCT may also be high if your plasma
or blood volume is too low. This can happen when you are dehydrated or in shock.

If your HCT is low, it means you
may have:

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in
your arm or hand. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection,
bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may
feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Living at a high altitude may cause
your HCT to be higher than normal. Being pregnant or being older than age 60 can cause
your HCT to be lower than normal.

Certain medicines can also affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don’t need to prepare for this
test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins,
and
supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don’t need a prescription
and
any illegal drugs you may use.

causes, norm, treatment, in children, men, women

Rating:
143

Contents:

  • Norm

  • Conducting an analysis

  • Reasons for the decline

  • Other factors affecting the indicator

  • Therapeutic measures

People often experience various illnesses, the source of which may not be determined. It often happens that the problem lies in the hematocrit value. In general, it is an indicator of the average level of red blood cells in the blood. Measurements are calculated as a percentage or in a liter ratio. Unfortunately, cases when the hematocrit is lowered in the body of a woman, a man and a child, or increased, have become increasingly common.

Norm

Hematocrit, like any other indicator of the body, has its own limits, beyond which it should not go. The hematocrit rate in a blood test depends on two factors: a person’s gender and his age range. Often, in an adult average male, deviations below the norm in the number of red blood cells appear at 54% or less. Hematocrit in women is lowered when its rate is less than 47%. In addition, in children, the average hematocrit is even lower – about 32-33%.

Carrying out analysis

In order to find out if the erythrocyte norm in the blood has deviated, it is necessary to conduct a special study.

An analysis that shows the hematocrit value of a person is as follows:

  • It is necessary to take a special glass tube on which there is a printed measuring scale;
  • This tube is filled with a liquid – blood;
  • Tube centrifugation in progress;
  • Evaluation of the number of constituent elements of the blood.

If modern blood diagnostics are available in the laboratory of the clinic, you can use another way to perform a hematocrit analysis – an automatic analysis unit.

Photo of the analysis

Reasons for the decrease

If the result of the blood test shows that the indicator deviates from the norm, and, consequently, the hematocrit is lower, then it is necessary to find out the possible reasons that led to this:

  • One of the most common reasons for a decrease in hematocrit is an increase in blood volume.
  • In addition, the cause of a decrease in hematocrit may be a decrease or insufficient number of red blood cells due to insufficient production or early death in the body.
  • Also, the hematocrit falls when the blood is thinned.
  • Often, the indicator of the number of erythrocytes deviates from the norm downwards in case of serious diseases, as well as when the body is influenced by factors that do not depend on the general health of a person.

The list of diseases that cause a decrease in hematocrit include:

  • Different types of anemia: the disease leads to a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the blood, which generally affects the general background of the body and is displayed on the hematocrit indicator;

Anemia

  • Inflammation: Because inflammation is often a chronic disease, it shows up on every health indicator, including hematocrit;
  • Malignant growths: if you have a fresh growth inside or outside, this can also be a signal for a decrease in the indicator;
  • Diseases of the vessels and kidneys: changes occur due to an excess of blood plasma.

Other factors affecting the indicator

In addition, as mentioned above, a decrease in hematocrit in the human body can occur not only as an omen to the disease. There are also other factors that affect the hematocrit. Among them, first of all, is malnutrition, which does not bring a sufficient amount of necessary elements to the body. It is problems with the diet, in particular, its inconsistency and excessive consumption of junk food that leads the body to a state that provokes a decrease in hematocrit.

Unhealthy food

In addition, one of the factors influencing the hematocrit number is a passive lifestyle in a recumbent state. Spending an excessive amount of time lying down lowers the hematocrit, but vigorous activity soon returns it to normal.

Also, hematocrit may be lowered after blood tests. After all, substances injected into a vein specifically thin the blood, and the tourniquet squeezes the hand, which leads to a delay in blood circulation. This decrease in hematocrit is short-term and does not entail negative consequences.

Therapeutic measures

Treatment that restores hematocrit to normal should first eliminate its cause, if it is not related to health problems.

In another case, it is necessary to follow some rules:

  • Establish a balanced diet: fruits, vegetables, foods high in iron, hematogen;
  • As prescribed by the doctor, take a vitamin complex, as well as iron-containing preparations.

This way, your hematocrit will recover sooner.

Video: Fetal hemoglobin and hematocrit:

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Clinics

Doctors

General clinical blood test – Euromed Kids

General (clinical) blood test is an analysis that allows you to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative composition of blood.

Which blood components are assessed in CBC?

Our blood consists of plasma and various cells: leukocytes, platelets and erythrocytes.

Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to the organs and tissues of the body. The analysis evaluates their number, size and shape, average volume, hemoglobin content in the erythrocyte and other indicators.

The most important protein found in red blood cells is hemoglobin. It is he who binds with oxygen in the lungs and carries it to the tissues. For adults and children of different ages, the norms will be different. If the hemoglobin level is low, the cells receive less oxygen than they need. A decrease in the level of hemoglobin indicates anemia, an increase indicates a thickening of the blood. Hemoglobin is often elevated in smokers and professional athletes.

  • Leukocytes

They are responsible for the immune defense of the body, protecting it from viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins and other uninvited guests. An increase in the content of leukocytes in the blood by 2-3 times indicates an inflammatory process. A slight leukocytosis may occur for transient reasons (stress, pregnancy, prolonged exposure to the sun, etc.)

A low level of leukocytes in the blood indicates that the immune system is reduced, and the body may not be able to cope with the disease. Leukocytes can be lowered during a severe infectious or oncological disease, with autoimmune diseases, and also after treatment with potent drugs. In addition, the leukocyte formula is evaluated – the ratio of different types of leukocytes. The composition of the leukocyte formula may indicate the nature of the disease.

  • Platelets

They are responsible for blood clotting, protect blood vessels from damage, reduce blood loss in wounds.
Determination of platelet count can be an important indicator in the diagnosis of autoimmune diseases, bleeding, miscarriage and many other problems.

In addition, some other important blood parameters are measured with CBC, such as hematocrit – determining the ratio of the total mass of cells and plasma, etc. Combinations of different changes can have completely different meanings. It is also very important that for people of different sex and age, the norms will be different.

When do I need to take the UAC?

UAC is a study that is done to exclude a variety of pathologies, including prevention.