What causes a high red blood cell count?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What does it mean when your red blood cells are high?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

There are many disorders that cause elevated red blood cell (RBC) counts. RBCs are made in your bone marrow. A hormone called erythropoietin, made by the kidney, stimulates the production of them. So, here is a list of many of the conditions that can increase RBCs:

1) Heart diseases, like CHF (congestive heart failure)

2) Lung diseases (like COPD or Pulmonary fibrosis)

3) Medications, like Procrit (erythropoietin) or anabolic steriods (testosterone)

4) Dehydration

5) Kidney diseases (like cancer)

6) Living at increased altitudes

7) Blood disorders, like polycythemia vera

Your health care provider should be able to help you try to figure out why this is happening to you. If they cannot help you, try to see a hematologist for help. Good luck!