What is PCV in Blood Test and Does it Matter for Your Health?

What is PCV in Blood Test and Does it Matter for Your Health?


What is PCV in Blood Test ?

  • A Packed Cell Volume (PCV) in Blood Test is performed to measure the proportion of blood made up of erythrocytes or RBCs. Performing this test is a reliable way to ensure that the body has enough red blood cells to carry oxygen effectively.
  • The human body contains about 5 liters of blood. Of these, the red blood cells constitute 45-55% of the total volume while the white blood cells and platelets represent 1-2%. In a healthy person, a new erythrocyte is formed every 120 seconds in the process called erythropoiesis.
  • A hematocrit test (or packed cell volume) is a common blood test to measure the proportion of red blood cells in a person’s blood.
  • This PCV in blood test is often used in combination with other tests to diagnose conditions such as anemia, monitor certain medications, or detect possible causes of bleeding.

What is the Purpose of PCV?

  • To diagnose and determine the severity of conditions causing anemia (low RBC, hemoglobin, or hematocrit), or polycythemia (high RBC, hemoglobin, or hematocrit)
  • To assess treatment efficacy for anemia or polycythemia
  • To monitor dehydration.

What does PCV Measure?

  • The Packed Cell Volume (PCV) Test is based on the number of RBCs as well as their average size (Mean Corpuscular Volume or MCV).
  • When the bone marrow produces more RBCs than usual, the hematocrit rises, resulting in increased blood density and slow blood flow.
  • Low hematocrit can be caused by low RBC production, shortened RBC lifespan in circulation, or excessive bleeding, all of which reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the cells.
  • The PCV in blood test is calculated with the help of an automated analyzer which means that it isn’t directly measured.
  • It is calculated by multiplying the red cell count with the mean cell volume to get the final amount.
  • PCV is slightly less accurate than the hematocrit test as they include small amounts of plasma that is trapped between two red cells.

Normal PCV Levels in blood

  • Adult male: 0.415-0.504 volume fraction
  • Adult female: 0.369-0.446 volume fraction

Interpretation of results

  • Anemia is caused by a lower than normal packed cell volume (PCV) for RBCs, which indicates a low amount of RBCs in circulation.
  • Polycythemia is caused by a higher than normal packed cell volume(PCV) for RBCs, which indicates a high amount of RBCs in circulation.

Reasons behind low PVC

There are several factors that contribute to the low PCV reading. These are some examples:
• Iron or vitamin (B12 or folate) deficiency, as well as mineral deficiency
• Suffering from bleeding
• Inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
• Kidney disorders
• Haemolysis, a condition in which RBCs are destroyed prematurely by the immune system. This occurs as a result of organ damage and inherited RBC abnormalities.
Cirrhosis of the liver
• Medications, including chemotherapy
• Disorders involving RBCs or hemoglobin, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, lymphoma, bone marrow disorders, and myeloma

Reasons behind high PVC

  • Dehydration is one of the most common causes of elevated PCV levels.
  • With adequate fluid intake, the levels return to normal, but it can also cause polycythemia, a condition in which there are more red blood cells than normal.

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