Hemoglobin is a part of the red blood cells. Its role is to transport oxygen from the lungs to the cells and carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs. It is also responsible for blood's red color. Hemoglobin values are closely linked to the red blood cell count.
If the result is too high
Certain situations where there is an increase of red cells in the blood (polycythemia) will also result in elevated hemoglobin levels.
If the result is too low
Blood hemoglobin levels will be lower if there is a major loss of blood (hemorrhage), anemia, or red blood cell destruction. Certain cancers (leukemia, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin's disease) as well as lupus, Addison's disease or rheumatoid diseases can also lower hemoglobin levels. Certain dietary deficiencies can also lower blood hemoglobin levels.
Blood hemoglobin levels cannot be interpreted by themselves. The results of other tests performed at the same time are important as well and are taken into consideration to determine the possible cause of any abnormal results.
Staying in high altitude or in an oxygen-poor setting will increase blood hemoglobin levels, as well as smoking or dehydration resulting in higher blood concentration.
Increased blood plasma volume or hyperhydration can result in lower results. Blood hemoglobin levels can be lower in pregnant women. Certain dietary deficiencies, especially vitamin or iron deficiency, can result in lower hemoglobin levels.
What you need to know before the test
Before going for blood tests, a procedure or other exam, it is best to always bring a list of all the drugs you take (prescription, OTC and natural health products). Unless told otherwise, you should take your medication as usual on the day of the test. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist for more information
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.