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Polycythemia vera is an abnormal increase in blood cells,
primarily red blood cells (polycythemia) but also white blood cells and
platelets. As numbers of blood cells rise, the blood becomes thicker. This increases the risk for dangerous blood clots (thrombosis).
cause of polycythemia vera is not known. Most often, this rare disease does not
cause medical problems. In some cases, the cell growth increases and can cause
Symptoms include a headache, itchiness, and a reddish
Treatment may include removal of blood (phlebotomy) on a
regular basis, such as weekly, until the blood cell count is normal. Medicine
might be used to slow down the production of red blood cells.
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
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