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What is the major cause of polycythemia?

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Polycythemia vera, a bone marrow disorder causing abnormal increase in the number of blood cells, is related to a gene defect called JAK2V617F, according to MedlinePlus. The underlying cause of the gene defect is unknown.

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Symptoms of polycythemia vera include dizziness, excess bleeding, red skin coloring and shortness of breath, says MedlinePlus. Other symptoms include an enlarged spleen and phlebitis, or inflamed veins. Physicians utilize a treatment known as phlebotomy for polycythemia. This treatment involves removing one unit of blood per week until the number of red blood cells drops to a normal level. Possible complications of polycythemia include gout, heart failure, thrombosis and acute myelogenous leukemia.

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