Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Polycythemia Vera
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
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.