Inflammatory diseases such as temporal arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica cause the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or sed rate, to rise along with white blood cell count. The sed rate generally implies the presence of inflammation in the body, but not always, Lab Tests Online says.
One test that reveals a single elevated sed rate indicates an infection or inflammation in the body. However, that information is not conclusive, Lab Tests Online claims. High sed rates result from a higher white blood cell count in general. Pregnant women, patients with anemia and older patients have moderately high sed rates, but patients with very high sed rates typically have a more systemic inflammatory disease.
Temporal arteritis, or chronic inflammation of the large arteries in the face and head, causes sed rates to flux at high levels. Other symptoms of temporal arteritis include face pain, headache and vision loss. Polymyalgia rheumatica, which causes pain in the neck, results in elevated sed rates. This disease mostly affects women older than 50 years of age, Lab Tests Online says.
Since a high sed rate and elevated white blood cell count can indicate cancer as well as inflammatory diseases, doctors typically follow up a sed rate measurement with other tests, notes Lab Tests Online.