Red Blood Cell Count
- RBC Count
- Erythrocyte Count
- Red Count
RBC is usually done as part of a CBC (complete blood count). This test counts the number of RBCs present in a set volume of blood. RBCs are produced in the bone marrow, live 120 days, and are broken down and cleaned from the bloodstream by the spleen. Conditions that can cause a shorter life-span of RBCs due to injury are artificial heart valves, or the build-up of plaques in the blood vessels from high cholesterol. RBCs can have an abnormal shape, and are removed by the spleen, which also shortens their lifespan. Disease of the spleen can also cause RBCs to be removed too early which also results in anemia. Low RBCs are seen in people with excessive bleeding or bruising, inherited deficiencies of factors necessary to RBC production, low vitamin B12 or iron deficiency, chronic diseases, cancer, bone marrow failure, kidney disease, inherited diseases which cause abnormal formation of RBCs (thalassemia or sickle cell anemia), certain medications, or during chemotherapy. High levels are seen in people with polycythemia vera (a cancer that causes uncontrolled numbers of RBCs), chronic diseases of the heart or lungs where oxygen levels are low (hypoxia), or while living at a high altitude.
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