HCT Blood Test: What Does Low or High HCT Levels Mean?

HCT blood test is part of a complete blood count test that is used to determine the number of red blood cells in a blood sample of a person. Usually, red blood cells and white blood cells are found in serum. According to Mayo Clinic, it is recommended to take a blood test from a reputable medical laboratory.

In this post, you will discover the meaning of hematocrit, importance and some of the various causes as well as a form of treatment available. You can also explore the pictures and understand the differences between the low, high and normal range.

What Is Hematocrit?

According to Wikipedia, hematocrit is a complete blood test that is used to measure the percentage of red blood cells (RBCs) in your blood. The result of hematocrit can be low, high or normal and this can help your doctor to understand more about your health.

According to doctors on WebMD, normal HCT test indicates that you have adequate red blood cells to carry around oxygen. Low HCT test implies that you may be suffering from anemia, a vitamin deficiency, or bleeding. Sometimes you may experience fatigued, drowsy and breathing difficulties.

On the other hand, high HCT test implies that your red blood cells carry less oxygen to various part of the body. This may result in dehydration and also increase the risk of getting heart diseases. You are likely to suffer from frequent headaches, feeling weak and dizziness.

Why Would You Get A Hematocrit Test?

As mentioned earlier, the HCT test is part of CBC and this test helps many doctors to understand some ways on how to diagnose certain health conditions as well as understand how your body reacts to certain medications.

Hematocrit ranges between being low, high and normal depending on the underlying health conditions. This test is usually ordered by your doctor to determine the presence of anemia, leukemia, dehydration and dietary deficiencies.

According to a medical report from doctors on WebMD, it is advisable to undergo various complete blood test such as MPV, MCH, RDW as well as HCT. This will help your doctor to gain understanding about your health before offering any form of treatment.

What Is A Normal Hematocrit Level?

According to doctors on the health line, the normal hematocrit level differs from one person to another due to age, sex, pregnancy, and even the lab tech.

According to Dr. Mandy Flannery O’Leary from the Department of Pathology at Louisiana State University, the normal range values include:

HCTPERCENTAGE VOLUME
Newborns55%-68%
One (1) week of age47%-65%
One (1) month of age37%-49%
Three (3) months of age30%-36%
One (1) year of age29%-41%
Ten (10) years of age36%-40%
Adult males42%-54%
Adult women38%-46%
Adult pregnant womenAbout 30% – 34% lower limits and 46% upper limits
High Altitude residentsAbout 45% – 61% in males; 41% – 56% in females

It is also important to note that the normal value also varies depending on the experience of the technician. It is, therefore, advisable to consult your doctor for the explanation about the variation.

What Does A Low Hematocrit Mean?

According to Dr. Victor Marchione on WebMD, a low level of HCT blood test implies that the level of red blood cells is below the normal range depending on age and sex.

According to Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on eMedicineHealth, your location and being pregnant can also affect the actual level of HCT in the blood.

Low Hematocrit Causes

The decrease in the level of red blood cells in the serum can result in various symptoms in the body. Here are some of the factors that cause the symptoms and low level of HCT in the blood. These factors include:

  1. Anemia

According to medical reports by doctors at the Mayo Clinic, there are various types of anemia and symptoms experienced by people suffering from it. Low level of HCT in blood test usually indicates that you are anemic and your doctor will diagnose the condition to understand the cause.

According to the journal Critical Care Medicine, it is recommended to undergo HCT in order to determine the type of anemia being experienced by the patient.

Some of the common symptoms of anemia due to low HCT are fatigue and a general lack of energy, racing heartbeat or an irregular heartbeat, having a pale complexion and shortness of breath.

  1. Nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies linked to anemia can also result in low level of HCT. According to the medical report published in 2010 by the World Journal of Gastroenterology, low HCT usually indicates that you lack folic acid and vitamin B12 in the body.

You are likely to experience classic symptoms of anemia if the nutritional deficiency is also accompanied by iron deficiency. Some of the common vitamin deficiencies are folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

Therefore, you will experience symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, difficulty concentrating, digestive problems and disrupted sleep patterns.

  1. Autoimmune conditions

According to medical experts on Medscape, there are certain autoimmune conditions that occur due to low hematocrit levels. It is recommended to consult your doctor for a proper course of treatment.

According to the journal Transfusion Medicine and Hemotherapy, these autoimmune conditions due to the low level of Hct can result in anemia.

Therefore, a low level of mean platelet volume (MPV) in the lab will be undertaken to identify some autoimmune conditions.

  1. Digestive problems

According to doctors on the Cleveland Clinic, inflammation in the digestive tract occurs due to low HCT in the blood hence affecting the percentage volume of red blood cells.

According to the medical report on the International Archives of Allergy, ulcerative colitis can affect the level of hematocrit. Therefore, you will experience symptoms of anemia in case you have digestive disorders and autoimmune conditions.

According to medical experts on WebMD, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can result in improper functioning of digestive system. Other common symptoms are frequented by bouts of diarrhea after eating, passing greasy stools, pain under your ribs and indigestion and heartburn.

  1. Kidney disease

Production of red blood cells in the blood can be affected by kidney diseases leading to a significant drop in hematocrit.

According to the study published in 2017 in the Journal of Medical Biochemistry, hormones secreted by kidney have usually controlled the production of red blood cells. Therefore, patients with a chronic kidney disease may experience a low level of hematocrit and hemoglobin.

  1. Fibromyalgia

Patients who suffer from fibromyalgia usually test low HCT in a blood test. This is because inflammation caused by the disease may result in low production of red blood cells and white blood cells.

According to the medical report in 2016 by the journal Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria, women are mainly affected by fibromyalgia. It occurs due to depression and increased sexual dysfunction. This condition usually leads to low level of Hct.

  1. Depression

Low level of Hct can also be a symptom of depression, increased anxiety, and panic disorder. According to information published in the journal, Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, you can experience inflammatory respond due to increase level of depression in the body.

According to medical experts, low level of HCT due to depression can also show an increase in neutrophils and leukocytes. Always adopt healthy living styles in order to avoid stress and an increased level of anxiety.

  1. Arthritis

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis usually show a low level of hematocrit. They also experience an inadequate supply of oxygen in the body.

According to the medical report published in 2018 by the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have a low level of hemoglobin in their blood. Patients with a low level of HCT due to arthritis can also result in other diseases.

It is advisable to check the level of vitamin in your body in case you experience joint inflammation and pain. You can consume foods that may help to reduce the inflammation and the pain.

Low Hematocrit Symptoms

Many doctors usually order for a complete blood test especially if the patient complains of many symptoms. This will help them determine the cause and diagnose the condition resulting in the drop of HCT.

Some of the common symptoms experienced by a patient with a low level of hct according to the University of Rochester Medical Center include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Frequent headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Clammy skin that looks pale

What Does A High Hematocrit Mean?

A high hematocrit means that the percentage volume of red blood cells in the blood is on the upper limit than the normal value. There are several conditions that lead to high level of HCT in the plasma. Most of these conditions are controllable and treatable at the same time.

It is advisable to let your doctor know if you recently donated blood or you are pregnant before undergoing the blood test. This is because the two factors can affect the result. Always consult your doctor.

High Hematocrit Causes

According to doctors on WebMD, a high hct is usually due to various conditions in the body. However, most of these body conditions are controllable as well as treatable. The following are some of the common causes of high hematocrit:

  1. Metabolic syndrome

This is a condition that occurs due to high blood pressure, excess belly fat, and high cholesterol. It is most common among overweight or obese people.

According to a medical report published in 2018 by the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome, high level of hematocrit is a symptom of metabolic syndrome.

  1. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

According to doctors on WebMD, a high level of insulin resistance is associated with elevated hematocrit. This usually implies that the person is at the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the medical survey undertaken by the Journal of International Medical Research, patients with insulin resistance usually experience increased Hct, hemoglobin, and LDL cholesterol that is considered to be bad.

  1. High blood pressure

A High hematocrit in CBC results is usually experienced among people who suffer from high blood pressure. According to the study published in 2018 by the Journal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis, most patients with high blood pressure experiences high Hct, hemoglobin, and red blood cell count values.

It is important to note that the red cell distribution width (RDW) can affect the reading of HCT in a blood test. It is therefore advisable to keep your blood pressure safe in order to minimize the chances of stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

  1. Heart disease

According to doctors at the mayo clinic, people with inherited heart disease are likely to experience a high level of the above the normal range.

According to the Journal European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, doctors take into account hematocrit, urea, and age when diagnosing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in some patients.

According to Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on Medscape, patients with high level of HCT usually develop congenital heart disease. Regular exercise, healthy diet, and stress management may reduce the chances of getting various heart diseases.

High Hematocrit Symptoms

Patients with a high level of HCT usually imply that their blood is thicker than normal and this could hinder blood circulation in the body. This will later result in various symptoms and complications linked to polycythemia Vera.

According to medical research done by the National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute, high level of hematocrit is linked to the following symptoms:

  • General feelings of weakness and feeling dizzy
  • Headaches
  • An enlarged spleen that causes bloating in your upper left abdomen
  • Itching all over your body after a warm shower or bath
  • Bleeding from your gums
  • Gouty arthritis
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Excessive sweating

How Is The Hematocrit Test Performed?

Typically, your doctor or nurse will take a sample of blood from your vein and put it in a tube. Generally, your doctor will tie your upper arm with a band in order to make these veins visible. The doctor will sterilize the site using an antiseptic and insert a sterilized needle.

This process usually takes less than a minute to collect adequate blood for the test. You will hold cotton gauze on the site in case of bleeding. You may also experience a small pain that will cease after some minutes. The cost of this type of blood test is variable depending on the healthcare and location.

How Is A Low Or High Hematocrit Result Treated?

How do you raise your hematocrit levels? Well, it is important to note that there are various causes of low and high hct results. Most of these conditions are controllable as well as treatable. Here are some steps to consider:

How to Lower Hematocrit

According to doctors on WebMD, it is advisable to consider visiting your doctor for medical advice and form of treatment for the low level of HCT. This course of treatment will help to reduce the thickness of blood by reducing hemoglobin and red blood cell levels.

Therefore, enduring training will help to lower Hct level. This is the reason why most athletes do not experience a low level of hct. According to the study published in 2018 by the journal Hemodialysis International, enduring training helps to lower level of hct.

How to Increase Hematocrit

There are several ways that you can adopt in case you notice some symptoms of the high level of hct in blood. These ways are used to improve your cardiovascular health but not in treating chronic low level of HCT.

  • Aerobic exercising
  • Consuming iron-rich foods
  • Use of Flaxseed oil
  • High-intensity interval training

FURTHER REFERENCES

  1. Hematocrit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hematocrit
  2. Hematocrit (Blood Test): https://www.emedicinehealth.com/hematocrit_blood_test/article_em.htm#what_is_a_hematocrit_blood_test
  3. What Is a Complete Blood Count? https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/complete-blood-count#1
  4. What is hematocrit? https://www.healthline.com/health/hematocrit
  5. Hematocrit (Hct) Blood Test: https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/hematocrit-hct-blood-test/