First Time User? Enroll now.
Notice of Data Security Incident
COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers
Home > 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).
The cause of polycythemia vera is a mutation in the blood cells. But the cause of this mutation is not known. Most often, this rare disease does not cause medical problems. In some cases, the cell growth increases and can cause leukemia.
Symptoms include a headache, itchiness, and a reddish face.
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: April 29, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Brian Leber MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.