Blood clots: Do you have sticky blood? The warning signs of polycythaemia vera

Shirley Ballas shares health update after blood tests

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One of the main causes of sticky blood is polycythaemia vera, which is a blood disorder that originates in the bone marrow. While some people may not experience telling symptoms, some do. The NHS listed symptoms of polycythaemia vera, such as headaches, blurred vision and red skin on the face, hands and feet. Other possible indications of the blood disorder might include a feeling of tiredness, high blood pressure, and bouts of dizziness.

Polycythaemia vera may also lead to discomfort in the stomach, a feeling of confusion, and issues such as nosebleeds and bruising.

The condition could also reveal itself after taking a bath or shower, as the skin might feel itchy.

If you are presenting with any signs of polycythaemia vera, the NHS recommend booking an appointment with your doctor.

A diagnosis is key, as the health condition raises the risk of life-threatening blood clots.

Examples of complications include a pulmonary embolism, which is where there is a blockage in the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs.

Another complication could be the development of deep vein thrombosis, which is where a blood vessel blockage develops in the leg.

The warning signs of a pulmonary embolism or DVT include:

  • Pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in one of your legs
  • A heavy ache in the affected area
  • Warm skin in the area of the clot
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest or upper back pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.

“Seek medical help immediately if you or someone you’re with shows signs of DVT or a pulmonary embolism,” the NHS instructed.

Polycythaemia vera also increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

What causes polycythaemia?

When there is a normal amount of red blood cells, but you have a reduced amount of fluid in the blood, it’s called “apparent polycythaemia”.

This type of polycythaemia is often caused by being overweight, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, or taking diuretics (medication that makes you pee more than usual).

For apparent polycythaemia, the condition can improve if the underlying cause is identified and managed.

Thus, if you work towards a healthy weight, are a non-smoker and if you don’t drink alcohol regularly, you may be able to prevent sticky blood from occurring.

However, polycythaemia could also be the result of dehydration, so simply drinking more water could do the trick.

If blood tests reveal that the body produces too many red blood cells, on the other hand, it’s polycythaemia vera.

The NHS explained: “There’s a problem in the cells produced by the bone marrow that become red blood cells.”

This subtype of the condition is considered “rare”, which is usually caused by a mutation to the JAK2 gene.

“The affected bone marrow cells can also develop into other cells found in the blood,” the NHS added.

“Which means that people with polycythaemia vera may also have abnormally high numbers of both platelets and white bloods cells.”

Although this condition is caused by a genetic change, it’s not usually inherited, with most cases diagnosed once a person is 60 years of age or older.

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