Polycythemia is a condition of the bone marrow. It makes too many red blood cells and platelets. Sometimes, white blood cells are affected. The increase of blood cells can cause the blood to thicken and clot.
There are many types. Each type has its own set of causes and risk factors. There is no exact cure. Early and proper care lowers the chances of serious problems.
The tests can show the severity of the disease. This helps guide a care plan.
Care is based on severity of the disease. The goal is to control the course of the disease. This will help with managing problems caused by blood clots or bleeding. For some, a combination of methods works best.
Care may involve:
This technique allows a person to have blood removed at times. It lowers the amount of red blood cells. Phlebotomy is done when the levels get too high.
—Lowers blood cell production, controls blood volume, and improves your immune system.
JAK inhibitors—Reduces spleen size and improves the balance of other blood cells.
Low-dose aspirin—Thins blood to reduce the risk of blood clots. Don't take aspirin without talking to your doctor. It increases the risk of
Medicines can also help ease symptoms:
Antihistamines or others to control itchy skin
Allopurinol to reduce uric acid levels in the blood which can lead to
spleen can be removed
if it’s causing problems. Common problems are pain, pressure, or higher blood pressure in the liver. Your chances of certain infections are higher without a spleen.
There is no way to prevent polycythemia since the cause is unknown.
Polycythemia vera. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/myeloproliferative-disorders/polycythemia-vera. Updated December 2016. Accessed July 17, 2018.
Polycythemia vera. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/polycythemia-vera. Accessed July 17, 2018.
Stuart BJ, Viera AJ. Polycythemia vera. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(9):2139-2144.
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