Hematocrit: what it is, normal values, and why it may be low or high

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It is likely that we do not know the normal values of each of the elements of the human body, which is understandable due to the complexity of many of them. But there are some that allow us to know about the state of our health in a very simple way. In this group we find the hematocrit.

what is the hematocrit and what are its normal values? Let’s see the answers right away. In addition, we will see some reasons why these values can be altered.

What is the hematocrit?

Hematocrit is related to the number of red blood cells present in the body. When you want to know the exact count of this element, a hematocrit test is performed. Red blood cells form an important part of the blood, reaching about 40% under normal conditions.

To better understand this idea, let’s imagine that a person has a blood test and it reveals that the hematocrit is 45%. This means that of the total blood, 45% are red blood cells.

Normal hematocrit values

Although there are different values considered normal for hematocrit, the reality is that this can vary from person to person without meaning anything bad. That is why the U.S. National Library of Medicine, an authority on medical issues, points out the range in which the amount of hematocrit is considered normal.

  • Males. The percentage should be between 40 and 50%. However, for even stricter considerations, it should be below 45%.
  • Females. The percentage should be between 36 and 44%

In both sexes, the amount of 45% hematocrit in the blood is a reference. Health experts emphasize that if this number is exceeded, it may be due to the presence of a medical condition.

Keeping these values in mind allows us to know if we are within the appropriate range. For doctors, this information is also useful. This is the only way to determine if there is a health problem.

Causes of low hematocrit

There are several reasons why a person has a low hematocrit percentage, with anemia being one of the most common. Mayo Clinic points out other possible reasons.

  • Leukemia. If the number of white blood cells increases too much, as with this disease, there is a decrease in red blood cells.
  • Lymphoma. The effect is the same as with leukemia. The number of red blood cells is altered, due to an inadequate increase in the white blood cells.
  • Vitamin deficiency. Red blood cells need vitamins and minerals, such as B12. If they do not have them, then the body produces less of them.
  • Hemorrhage. Since red blood cells make up a large part of the blood, if there is hemorrhage, their quantity decreases considerably.
  • Excess hydration. Although it may seem contradictory, if there is an excessive amount of hydration in the body, red blood cells may also decrease.

A particular detail occurs with women during pregnancy. It is very common for them to have a lower hematocrit, which is caused by anemia. To avoid risks, medical surveillance is recommended, as well as the use of appropriate medications. Among them, folic acid stands out, which contributes to the increase in the production of red blood cells.

How to increase hematocrit

When there is a very small amount of hematocrit, the body’s oxygen circulation is diminished, bringing serious results. In this situation, one of the following recommendations should be followed.

  • Drugs. In this case, it is ideal to take drugs containing erythropoietin.
  • Consumption of iron. This can be done with medications but also with food. Among the best are eggs, legumes, red meat, among others.
  • Consumption of Vitamin B12. In addition to having supplements available, it can also be consumed in foods such as blue fish, some dairy products, soy, etc.
  • Consumption of folic acid. Legumes, citrus fruits, avocado and many other foods have a considerable amount of folic acid.

Each of these foods, as well as drugs containing the main ingredient, make it possible to increase the amount of hematocrit in a short time. The best thing to do is to seek the help of a medical expert, such as a hematologist, to make sure that you are taking steps in the right direction.

Causes of high hematocrit

Just as a significant drop in hematocrit in the body is a sign of a condition, if the hematocrit is too high, it is a sign of trouble. The U.S. National Library of Medicine points out the possible reasons.

  • Lack of hydration. When the body does not contain enough fluids, especially water, there is an alteration in the production of red blood cells, increasing their presence.
  • Primary polycythemia. It is an inherited disease that affects the reception of erythropoietin. It leads to the body making more red blood cells than necessary.
  • Heart or lung conditions. Especially when these are congenital, they can affect the number of red blood cells.

Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, if the person suffers from a disease that reduces the amount of oxygen in the body, the number of red blood cells will increase. This is a natural reaction of the body to protect the person, even if it ultimately affects the person.

How to lower hematocrits

When hematocrits are very high, there are several risks, one of them being the risk of suffering some disease due to the high level of blood coagulation. Hence the importance of reducing their amount in the shortest possible time. To do so, the following suggestions can be followed.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Both water and unsweetened fruit juice help to increase the amount of fluid in the body, increasing hydration. This allows the body to stop producing excess red blood cells.
  • Aspirin use. To avoid the risk of excessive blood clotting, aspirin is recommended. However, you can only take two a month.

Hematocrits are essential for life and the functioning of our whole body. Therefore, it is important to have a hematological examination every so often.

German Fuertes Otero
German Fuertes Oterohttps://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/g/11p5t5jsss
CEO at PharmaSalud.net. M.D. from Stanford Medicine: Stanford, California, US, M.Sc. from University of Cambridge: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK and University of Oxford: Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK. PhD at Harvard University Harvard Catalyst: Cambridge, MA, US.

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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