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What is the treatment for high hematocrit?

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Quick Answer

Treatment for a high hematocrit varies depending on the underlying cause, but patients with very high hematocrit levels may require blood letting, according to eMedicineHealth. Hematocrit that is only slightly above average generally requires no treatment.

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Individuals are considered to have polycythemia, or a high red blood-cell count, when their hematocrit level is more than 52 percent in men or 48 percent in women, as stated by MedicineNet. Although blood letting is the primary treatment option for patients with primary polycythemia, certain medications may also be used to help prevent blood clotting. These include anti-platelet agents such as aspirin and the medication hydroxyurea. Certain chemotherapeutic drugs have been considered to suppress abnormal red blood-cell production, but use is limited as of 2015 due to the risk of side effects.

Individuals may have a high hematocrit level if they are dehydrated, live in high altitudes, have erythrocytosis or suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is also common in those with congenital heart disease and those with a low oxygen intake due to smoking or pulmonary fibrosis, as confirmed by eMedicineHealth. Normal hematocrit values vary depending on factors such as age and sex, and authorities in the field dispute what constitutes a normal hematocrit value for a given population.

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