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What is rdw for blood work?

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Answer # 1 #

RDW or red blood cell distribution width is a measure of how equal your red blood cells are in size. It can help your doctor diagnose various blood-related disorders and diseases. In addition, it is also increased in seemingly unrelated disorders and diseases that nevertheless affect blood cell production and lifespan. These include inflammatory, autoimmune, liver, kidney, and heart disease. Keep reading to learn why having a high RDW is bad and how to improve your values.

A normal red blood cell is shaped like a disk with a depressed center. It is very flexible, which enables it to change shape – this is needed for a red blood cell to squeeze through the narrowest of blood vessels called capillaries .

Normally, red blood cells are relatively equal in shape and size. However, in some conditions and diseases, red blood cells can have a distorted shape or be smaller or larger than normal while still maintaining their core function (oxygen and carbon dioxide transport) .

Red blood cell distribution width (RDW) is the variation of the size/volume of your red blood cells. Basically, it tells you how equal or unequal your red blood cells are in size. It is a part of a complete blood count, which also measures your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red and white blood cell counts .

Low values mean that your red blood cells are roughly similar in size, which is normal and desirable. Higher values mean that your red blood cells are produced in different sizes. In other words, there is some issue with red blood cell production or survival .

Along with the MCV (mean corpuscular volume), MCH (mean corpuscular hemoglobin), and MCHC (mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration), a high RDW can serve as a sign of several underlying diseases, such as anemia :

RDW normally ranges from 11.5 – 15%. The range may slightly vary between laboratories.

However, a normal RDW doesn’t mean a condition such as anemia is absent. Your doctor will interpret your results in conjunction with your medical history and other test results.

A low value indicates that your red blood cells are uniform in size. This is desirable and not a cause for concern .

However, it is still possible to have a blood-related disease and low RDW levels .

A high RDW means that your red blood cells are unequal in size. This condition is called anisocytosis .

It happens when, for any reason, the body is having issues producing red blood cells.

Causes listed below are commonly associated with high RDW. If your RDW is high, work with your doctor or another health care professional to get an accurate diagnosis.

Various nutrient deficiencies can cause your RDW to increase, such as:

This happens because all of these nutrients are needed to produce healthy red blood cells. Any of these deficiencies can eventually lead to anemia.

Alcoholics can have a high RDW without having liver disease. This is because alcohol can have toxic effects on red blood cells .

RDW is increased in various liver diseases, including hepatitis, alcoholic liver cirrhosis, biliary cirrhosis, and liver cancer .

Studies show that higher RDW is associated with inflammation and higher levels of inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-alpha .

Inflammatory cytokines can hinder red blood cell production, and thereby increase RDW levels. In addition, oxidative stress that often accompanies chronic inflammation can decrease the lifespan of red blood cells and further increase RDW values .

Higher RDW was found in studies of people with inflammation-associated diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and major depressive disorder (MDD) .

In addition, RDW increases with inflammation and increased disease activity in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, Sjogren’s, systemic sclerosis, and ankylosing spondylitis .

If a person has many blood transfusions, their RDW can increase due to the differences in blood cells between the donor and the recipient .

Bleeding in Injuries increase RDW . Bleeding may not necessarily be visible, as is the case with gut bleeding .

Erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys, is needed for the production and maturation of red blood cells. Abnormal production of this hormone happens in kidney disease leading to increased RDW .

People with decreased kidney function have higher RDW levels .

In a study of over 17.5k adults, those getting less or more than 7-8h of sleep per night were more likely to have higher RDW. This was especially the case for people sleeping over 10h per night — their chances of having elevated RDW were increased by almost 70% .

RDW is also affected by shift work. In a study of 7k women, those on rotating shifts had almost 50% increased odds of having elevated RDW compared with women working day shifts .

RDW is higher in people with sleep apnea .

Hereditary red blood cell disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and spherocytosis can increase RDW . In all of these disorders red blood cells become misshapen.

However, thalassemia patients may also have normal RDW levels .

RDW is higher in various cancers, including gastric, liver, colon, and kidney cancer .

There are many factors in cancer that can interfere with red blood cell production, such as chronic inflammation and poor nutritional status.

In cancer, RDW often increases with disease severity and metastasis .

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health issues that together increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. These issues are:

People who have three of the five issues are considered as having metabolic syndrome.

A large study of over 217k workers found an association between higher RDW (>14%) and metabolic syndrome .

Similarly, another smaller study with 3.5k people found that people with higher RDW (>14%) were more likely to have metabolic syndrome .

In a study of over 25.5k people, every 1% increase in RDW was associated with a 13% higher risk of having a heart attack over the next 15 years .

In another study of 156 people with high blood pressure, higher RDW was associated with an increased risk of plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis) .

In a study that monitored 2.6k people with normal blood sugar over 4 years, those with the highest RDW values had almost 2 times higher risk of developing diabetes compared to people with the lowest RDW values .

In a study of over 25k people, men with the highest RDW had a 30% higher risk of getting cancer over the next 15 years than men with the lowest values. In postmenopausal women, highest RDW values were associated with a 22% higher risk. However, no link between RDW and cancer was found in premenopausal women .

In a study of over 8k adults and a 6-12 year follow up, higher initial RDW values were associated with a higher risk of death. For every 1% increase in RDW, all-cause mortality risk increased by 22% .

In another study of over 51k people who were hospitalized due to critical illness and followed over one year, a higher initial RDW measurement was associated with higher all-cause mortality .

Finally, a meta-analysis looked at 13 trials with over 10k people who experienced acute coronary syndrome, which is decreased blood flow to the heart such that part of the heart muscle is unable to function properly or dies. A low RDW during the syndrome was associated with a significantly lower heart disease and all-cause mortality and a lower risk of subsequent risk of having a major adverse cardiovascular event (such as heart disease or stroke) .

If you have an elevated RDW, the most important thing is to work with your doctor to find out what’s causing your high RDW and to treat any underlying conditions. The additional lifestyle changes listed below are other things you may want to discuss with your doctor. None of these strategies should ever be done in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes!

Eat a healthy and nutritious diet in order to prevent nutrient deficiencies. It is important that your diet includes enough iron, folate, and vitamin B12 . Correcting nutritional deficiencies can help improve red blood cell production and decrease RDW levels.

However, remember that nutrient deficiencies can also have non-dietary causes, such as gut issues (malabsorption), in which case they can’t be corrected by simple dietary adjustments.

Smokers have higher RDW, and it increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the duration of smoking .

Excessive alcohol can cause red blood cell damage . In addition, alcohol also decreases the absorption of nutrients such as vitamin B12 and folate, which are necessary for red blood cell production .

Avoid alcohol until your RDW improves .

Make sure you are getting enough sleep, but don’t overdo it. Studies suggest that 7-8h of sleep per night may be ideal .

In a study with over 17.5k adults, those getting 7 – 8h of sleep had the lowest RDW levels. Getting 5, 9, and ≥ 10 hours/night was associated with 23%, 29%, and 67% higher odds of having high RDW, respectively .

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specyqbh Kehar
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Answer # 2 #

A normal range for red cell distribution width is 12.2 to 16.1 percent in adult females and 11.8 to 14.5 percent in adult males. If you score outside this range, you could have a nutrient deficiency, infection, or other disorder.

However, even at normal RDW levels, you may still have a medical condition.

To receive a proper diagnosis, your doctor must look at other blood tests — such as the mean corpuscular volume (MCV) test, which is also part of a CBC — to combine results and provide an accurate treatment recommendation.

In addition to helping confirm a diagnosis when combined with other tests, RDW results can help determine the type of anemia you might have.

If your RDW is too high, it could be an indication of a nutrient deficiency, such as a deficiency of iron, folate, or vitamin B-12.

These results could also indicate macrocytic anemia, when your body doesn’t produce enough normal red blood cells, and the cells it does produce are larger than normal. This can be due to a deficiency of folate or vitamin B-12.

Additionally, you may have microcytic anemia, which is deficiency of normal red blood cells, and your red blood cells will be smaller than normal. Iron deficiency anemia is a common cause of microcytic anemia.

To help properly diagnose these conditions, your healthcare provider will perform a CBC test and compare the RDW and MCV test portions to measure your red blood cell volume.

A high MCV with a high RDW occurs in some macrocytic anemias. A low MCV with a high RDW occurs in microcytic anemias.

If you receive a normal RDW with a low MCV, you may have an anemia resulting from a chronic disease, such as that caused by chronic kidney disease.

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Andreja Grierson
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Answer # 3 #

An RDW (red blood cell distribution width) blood test measures how varied your red blood cells are in size and volume. Your red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to organs and tissues throughout your body. The oxygen fuels your body’s cells so that they can produce energy.

When it comes to your red blood cells, size matters. Healthy red blood cells are about the same size, ranging from 6.2 to 8.2 micrometers. Having red blood cells that are vastly different sizes from each other (high variation) may be a sign of anemia. Anemia is a condition that involves not having enough healthy red blood cells to supply oxygen to your body’s organs.

An RDW blood test is just one lab test your healthcare provider may use to diagnose anemia or other conditions.

Your healthcare provider may order an RDW blood test as part of a more extensive blood workup called a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is a blood test that provides information about multiple parts of your blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

One portion of a CBC includes a panel of tests called RBC (red blood cell) indices. RBC indices provide information about your red blood cells in particular. An RDW blood test is part of the panel.

RBC indices include:

Together, these tests may be used to diagnose various conditions associated with problems involving your red blood cells.

The word “width” in red cell distribution width can be confusing. It’s easy to assume that the test measures the width of your red blood cells, but this isn’t the case. Instead, an RDW blood test measures the variation in cell size among a representative sample of your red blood cells.

Cell distribution width refers to the distance between cell sizes as they’re plotted on a histogram. A histogram is a special type of graph that shows a range of numbers or values, like the range of red blood cell sizes. Similar values (more or less the same cell size) will be clustered close together on the histogram, and the RDW will be low. Different values (varied cell sizes) will be spread out on the histogram, showing a wider distribution of values. In this case, the RDW will be high.

An RDW blood test can help your healthcare provider get closer to a diagnosis if you have anemia-like symptoms or if you have a condition associated with anemia.

Your healthcare provider may suggest an RDW blood to find out if anemia is causing your symptoms. Common symptoms of anemia include:

An RDW blood test can also provide information on the specific type of anemia you have.

An RDW blood test, along with other RBC indices, may be used to help diagnose what’s causing anemia. Conditions associated with anemia include:

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Joe grvw
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Answer # 4 #

An RDW (red blood cell distribution width) blood test measures how varied your red blood cells are in size and volume. Your red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to organs and tissues throughout your body. The oxygen fuels your body’s cells so that they can produce energy.

When it comes to your red blood cells, size matters. Healthy red blood cells are about the same size, ranging from 6.2 to 8.2 micrometers. Having red blood cells that are vastly different sizes from each other (high variation) may be a sign of anemia. Anemia is a condition that involves not having enough healthy red blood cells to supply oxygen to your body’s organs.

An RDW blood test is just one lab test your healthcare provider may use to diagnose anemia or other conditions.

Your healthcare provider may order an RDW blood test as part of a more extensive blood workup called a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is a blood test that provides information about multiple parts of your blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

One portion of a CBC includes a panel of tests called RBC (red blood cell) indices. RBC indices provide information about your red blood cells in particular. An RDW blood test is part of the panel.

RBC indices include:

Together, these tests may be used to diagnose various conditions associated with problems involving your red blood cells.

The word “width” in red cell distribution width can be confusing. It’s easy to assume that the test measures the width of your red blood cells, but this isn’t the case. Instead, an RDW blood test measures the variation in cell size among a representative sample of your red blood cells.

Cell distribution width refers to the distance between cell sizes as they’re plotted on a histogram. A histogram is a special type of graph that shows a range of numbers or values, like the range of red blood cell sizes. Similar values (more or less the same cell size) will be clustered close together on the histogram, and the RDW will be low. Different values (varied cell sizes) will be spread out on the histogram, showing a wider distribution of values. In this case, the RDW will be high.

An RDW blood test can help your healthcare provider get closer to a diagnosis if you have anemia-like symptoms or if you have a condition associated with anemia.

Your healthcare provider may suggest an RDW blood to find out if anemia is causing your symptoms. Common symptoms of anemia include:

An RDW blood test can also provide information on the specific type of anemia you have.

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Hosting dulalzc Rashid
STREET LIGHT REPAIRER
Answer # 5 #

A red cell distribution width (RDW) test measures the differences in the volume and size of your red blood cells (erythrocytes). Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to every cell in your body. Your cells need oxygen to grow, make new cells, and stay healthy.

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Kalamkar Dilip-Zafar
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Answer # 6 #

A lower RDW means that your red blood cells are all about the same size.

If the red cell distribution width is high, the sizes of your red blood cells vary more than what's considered normal. A high RDW may be a sign of anemia or another nutrient deficiency.

This article covers why RDW blood tests are done, how the results are interpreted, and what to expect if you are having a RDW blood test.

The RDW blood test is commonly performed both for screening healthy individuals and to evaluate a wide range of medical conditions, including anemia.

There are times when healthcare providers may specifically look at the value of RDW:

RDW results are considered one piece of the diagnostic puzzle. A CBC includes several indices, or measurements, pertaining to your red blood corpuscles (the medical term for cells).

The other red cell indices include:

A CBC also includes indices related to your white blood cells and platelets. RDW test results will be considered alongside other CBC results as a healthcare provider evaluates your situation.

The results of an RDW blood test are used in combination with other indices to tell one type of anemia from another.

For example, both iron deficiency anemia and thalassemia are usually associated with a low MCV, but the two conditions are treated differently. Checking the RDW can help distinguish between these two types of anemia, where a high RDW indicates a possible iron deficiency, and a normal RDW would point to thalassemia.

Similarly, megaloblastic anemias (such as vitamin B12 deficiency and folate deficiency) and non-megaloblastic anemias (such as anemia related to liver disease) are both associated with a high MCV (macrocytic anemias), but again are treated differently. In this case, the megaloblastic anemias usually have a high RDW while non-megaloblastic a low RDW, helping to make the distinction.

RDW can also be very helpful in mixed anemias. For example, a combination of iron deficiency (microcytic anemia) and folate deficiency anemia (macrocytosis) may have a normal MCV (normocytic anemia), but the RDW will be very high.

The RDW can be a very helpful number even if there is no evidence of anemia (if the red blood cell count and hemoglobin levels are normal).

Many studies have been done in the last several years looking at the predictive value of RDW in a wide range of diseases. Some of these include:

From another angle, researchers have looked at the potential for RDW to predict the risk of cancer in people who do not currently have the disease. For example, they found a dose-dependent relationship between high RDW values in men and postmenopausal women and future cancer risk.

For people who are undergoing evaluation for unintentional weight loss, a high RDW increased the chance that the weight loss was due to cancer.

Research on the role of RDW in evaluating conditions other than blood conditions is quite new, and it's expected that more information will be available to better understand the potential benefits of looking at RDW in the future

Since the RDW is part of a simple blood test, there are very few risks. Uncommonly people may experience bleeding at the puncture site, bruising (a hematoma), or infection.

RDW may also be referred to as erythrocyte distribution width or RDW-SD (standard deviation test).

There are a few limitations with this blood test. If an RDW is drawn after a blood transfusion, it won't accurately reflect the RDW of a person's cells. If a lab uses EDTA anticoagulated blood instead of citrated blood, the reading will be falsely high (think of those colored tops on the blood collection tubes). Since the RDW is calculated using MCV, an error in MCV will result in an error in the RDW.

There are no special dietary or activity restrictions prior to doing an RDW (CBC). You will need to have your insurance card and it's helpful to provide your healthcare provider with any previous CBC results for comparison.

A CBC may be drawn in the hospital as well as many clinics and labs.

Before drawing your blood, a lab technician will clean the area (usually an arm) with antiseptic and apply a tourniquet to make the vein easier to see. They will then insert the needle through your skin and into the vein.

While the needle is inserted you may feel a sharp (but short) sting, and some people may experience lightheadedness or feel faint.

After the sample is removed, the needle is removed and pressure applied to the puncture wound. A dressing is then applied to keep the area clean and reduce any bleeding.

As soon as your blood is drawn, you will be able to return home. Potential side effects to be aware of include:

If your clinic has a lab associated with it, most often you will receive your results shortly after they are completed. In some cases, the blood sample will be sent out to a lab and your healthcare provider will call with results when they are available.

RDW results appear on a CBC report alongside all of the other indices. The combination of results is usually used rather than the RDW alone.

Normal red blood cells average between 6 and 8 micrometers in diameter. RDW results are given as a percentage. The normal range for RDW is roughly 11.5% to 15.4%, and the number often increases with age, and can vary somewhat by the laboratory doing the test, however.

Here's a sense of the possible reasons why your RDW may be low, high, or normal.

Low RDW

Having a low RDW is normal and ideal. It means that your red blood cells are all uniform in size and shape. A low RDW is not associated with any blood disorder.

High RDW

A few types of anemias associated with an elevated RDW include these situations:

Normal RDW

Even if your CBC results reveal a normal RDW, you can still have anemia. In this case, your healthcare provider will consider other values on your CBC to determine the type of anemia present.

Examples of anemias in which RDW is most often normal include these situations:

The MCV is of particular interest, as certain RDW and MCV result pairings are indicative of certain diagnoses.

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Lonette Urb
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