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High hematocrit percentage in the blood

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High hematocrit percentage in the blood
Last update: 15/12/2020

What is a high hematocrit percentage in the blood called?

  • Polyglobulia

What is the normal hematocrit percentage in the blood?

If you need to know which are the hematocrit reference ranges or you require more information about the role of hematocrit in the blood you can visit: Normal hematocrit level in the blood

What does high hematocrit percentage in the blood mean?

Hematocrit (HCT), also known as PCV (packed cell volume), measures the percentage of red blood cells in the blood plasma. A percentage higher than normal may be due to:

  • An excessive production of RBC (Red Blood Cells) called absolute polyglobulia. The main cause is a disorder called polycythemia vera. It may be caused also by some drugs such as EPO (erythropoietin), pulmonary diseases (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or sleep apnea) and sometimes by kidney cancer.
  • A decrease in blood plasma called relative polyglobulia. A low blood plasma volume increases the RBC concentration. The main cause is dehydration related to burns, diarrhea or intense physical activity.

A high hematocrit percentage increases the sport performance. For that reason, in some sports such as cycling or swimming it was used EPO (erythropoietin) illegally to increase hematocrit. However, it was very dangerous because in case of dehydration, it may further increase the viscosity of the blood and cause cardiovascular disorders.

Polyglobulia or a high hematocrit percentage in the blood means:

  • Mild polyglobulia (48 -54% in adult women and 54 - 60% in adult men):

    There is a mild polyglobulia where hematocrit is a bit higher than normal range.

    It may be due to high-altitude, tobacco or some drugs, but it is necessary to exclude the possibility of polycythemia vera.

  • Moderate polyglobulia (54 - 60% in adult women and 60 - 66% in adult men):

    A moderate polyglobulia is usually related to polycythemia vera, especially if hemoglobin levels are also high.

    In 4 out of 5 cases of polycythemia vera, hematocrit percentage is over 55%.

    You should visit your doctor and it is recommended that you donate blood to reduce the hematocrit as a preventive treatment.

  • Severe polyglobulia (> 60% in adult women y > 66% in adult men):

    A severe polyglobulia requires immediate medical attention. It may be due to a patient with severe polycythemia vera or a severe burn.

    The amount of RBCs is so high that it may increase the viscosity of the blood and it may appear cardiovascular problems.

    A hematocrit level over 65% in women and 70% in men increase significantly the risk of a heart failure.

Which factors can raise the hematocrit percentage in the blood?

There are some health circumstances or drugs than can raise your hematocrit percentage in the blood:

  • Dehydration (due to excessive sweating, vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Diarrhea
  • Prolonged training
  • High altitude
  • Burns
  • Tobacco
  • Drugs
    • Androgen
    • Diuretics
    • Erythropoietin (EPO)
    • Steroids
      • Boldenone
      • Oxymetholone

Which diseases can raise your hematocrit percentage in the blood?

There are different diseases why the hematocrit percentage in the blood can be higher than normal:

  • Polycythemia vera
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Kidney cancer
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Dengue

What can I do to lower the hematocrit percentage in the blood?

If your hematocrit percentage is a bit high, you may donate blood or perform phlebotomy (removal of blood from your vein). With these procedures, you may lower your hematocrit and at the same time, you can help other people with your blood.

Besides, you should avoid tobacco and a follow a proper hydration (adequate intake of water and liquids).

Where can I find more information about hematocrit percentage in the blood?

You can visit our pages about:

Which values are considered a high hematocrit percentage in the blood?

The following values are considered to be above the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in percentage. They are an example of a healthy woman of about 45 years old with no known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

Hematocrit
Mild polyglobulia
48.1 %48.2 %48.3 %48.4 %48.5 %48.6 %48.7 %48.8 %
48.9 %49 %49.1 %49.2 %49.3 %49.4 %49.5 %49.6 %
49.7 %49.8 %49.9 %50 %50.1 %50.2 %50.3 %50.4 %
50.5 %50.6 %50.7 %50.8 %50.9 %51 %51.1 %51.2 %
51.3 %51.4 %51.5 %51.6 %51.7 %51.8 %51.9 %52 %
52.1 %52.2 %52.3 %52.4 %52.5 %52.6 %52.7 %52.8 %
52.9 %53 %53.1 %53.2 %53.3 %53.4 %53.5 %53.6 %
53.7 %53.8 %53.9 %54 %    
Moderate polyglobulia
54.1 %54.2 %54.3 %54.4 %54.5 %54.6 %54.7 %54.8 %
54.9 %55 %55.1 %55.2 %55.3 %55.4 %55.5 %55.6 %
55.7 %55.8 %55.9 %56 %56.1 %56.2 %56.3 %56.4 %
56.5 %56.6 %56.7 %56.8 %56.9 %57 %57.1 %57.2 %
57.3 %57.4 %57.5 %57.6 %57.7 %57.8 %57.9 %58 %
58.1 %58.2 %58.3 %58.4 %58.5 %58.6 %58.7 %58.8 %
58.9 %59 %59.1 %59.2 %59.3 %59.4 %59.5 %59.6 %
59.7 %59.8 %59.9 %60 %    
Severe polyglobulia
60.1 %60.2 %60.3 %60.4 %60.5 %60.6 %60.7 %60.8 %
60.9 %61 %61.1 %61.2 %61.3 %61.4 %61.5 %61.6 %
61.7 %61.8 %61.9 %62 %62.1 %62.2 %62.3 %62.4 %
62.5 %62.6 %62.7 %62.8 %62.9 %63 %63.1 %63.2 %
63.3 %63.4 %63.5 %63.6 %63.7 %63.8 %63.9 %64 %
64.1 %64.2 %64.3 %64.4 %64.5 %64.6 %64.7 %64.8 %
64.9 %65 %65.1 %65.2 %65.3 %65.4 %65.5 %65.6 %
65.7 %65.8 %65.9 %66 %66.1 %66.2 %66.3 %66.4 %
66.5 %66.6 %66.7 %66.8 %66.9 %67 %67.1 %67.2 %
67.3 %67.4 %67.5 %67.6 %67.7 %67.8 %67.9 %68 %
68.1 %68.2 %68.3 %68.4 %68.5 %68.6 %68.7 %68.8 %
68.9 %69 %69.1 %69.2 %69.3 %69.4 %69.5 %69.6 %
69.7 %69.8 %69.9 %70 %70.1 %70.2 %70.3 %70.4 %
70.5 %70.6 %70.7 %70.8 %70.9 %71 %71.1 %71.2 %
71.3 %71.4 %71.5 %71.6 %71.7 %71.8 %71.9 %72 %
72.1 %72.2 %72.3 %72.4 %72.5 %72.6 %72.7 %72.8 %
72.9 %73 %73.1 %73.2 %73.3 %73.4 %73.5 %73.6 %
73.7 %73.8 %73.9 %74 %74.1 %74.2 %74.3 %74.4 %
74.5 %74.6 %74.7 %74.8 %74.9 %75 %75.1 %75.2 %
75.3 %75.4 %75.5 %75.6 %75.7 %75.8 %75.9 %76 %
76.1 %76.2 %76.3 %76.4 %76.5 %76.6 %76.7 %76.8 %
76.9 %77 %77.1 %77.2 %77.3 %77.4 %77.5 %77.6 %
77.7 %77.8 %77.9 %78 %78.1 %78.2 %78.3 %78.4 %
78.5 %78.6 %78.7 %78.8 %78.9 %79 %79.1 %79.2 %
79.3 %79.4 %79.5 %79.6 %79.7 %79.8 %79.9 %80 %
Medically reviewed by our Medical staff on 15/12/2020

Bibliography

  • Concise Book of Medical Laboratory Technology: Methods and Interpretations. 2nd Edition. 2015. Ramnik Sood. ISBN: 978-93-5152-333-8. Pag. 212.
  • A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Test. 9th edition. Frances Fischbach. Marshall B. Dunning III. 2014. Pag 90. ISBN-10: 1451190891.
  • Essentials of Medical Laboratory Practice. Constance L. Lieseke, Elizabeth A. Zeibig. 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8036-1899-2 Pag: 299.
  • Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures with nursing diagnoses (8th ed), Jane Vincent Corbett, Angela Denise Banks, ISBN: 978-0-13-237332-6, Pag. 27.

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