Hemoglobin and Hematocrit

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HEMOGLOBIN:  is a protein, found in red blood cells, that is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to all other tissues of your body.  Red blood cells go through the lungs and the hemoglobin in these cells pick up oxygen.   The red blood cells, carrying hemoglobin (without oxygen), go back to the lungs to pick up more oxygen and the process starts all over again.  If you have a Complete Blood Count (CBC) done, one thing the test checks for is to see if you are anemic. (1)

According to the Mayo Clinic, if your hemoglobin is low, you are anemic and your body must work harder to carry oxygen to your tissues.  This can make you feel tired and short of breath.    A CBC also checks your white blood cells.  These cells fight infection.  A low white cell count can make you more susceptible to infection.  (2)

The normal range on a CBC is 11.5 – 15.5 grams per deciliter in women and 13 – 18 grams in men.   Any number lower than these indicates anemia.  When the numbers get very low you get easily fatigued and could have a rapid heart rate. (3)

(1) www.coloncancer.about.com                                                                                (2) www.mayoclinic.com                                                                    (3) www.everydayhealth.com

HEMATOCRIT:   According to the Mayo Clinic the hematocrit is the percentage of your total blood volume that is composed of red blood cells.  A test is done by putting a sample of your blood into a test tube then putting the test tube into a centrifuge that spins the blood very quickly.  This separates your blood into three parts:  the plasma, red blood cells and other blood cells.  When the blood separates, the doctor can tell what percentage of the cells are red blood cells. (2)  A normal hematocrit is 36% – 45% for woman and 38%- 50% for men.   If your hematocrit is low, it means your cells aren’t getting enough oxygen.  The most common cause of a low hematocrit is anemia.  Iron deficiency anemia can occur because of many things; one of which is chemotherapy drugs. (3).

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