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BLOOD >> Test >> Red Blood Cells (RBC)

One of the most important red blood cell tests is used to find out how much haemoglobin there is in the blood. Haemoglobin carries oxygen around your body. This is called the haemoglobin concentration or level.

Another important test, the mean corpuscular volume or MCV test, measures the size of the red blood cells. If a person suffers from anaemia their haemoglobin level will always be less than normal. But the size of the red blood cells depends on the type of anaemia you have.

A haematocrit test measures the total volume that red blood cells take up in the blood. In practice, this is done by spinning a test tube of blood until the red blood cells - the heaviest part of the blood - go to the bottom of the tube. Then their volume is calculated.

Almost all types of anaemia will cause a low haematocrit (a low red blood cell volume), as will very severe bleeding. A high haematocrit can occur if a person is dehydrated from not drinking enough fluid or because they are losing fluid as happens with diarrhoea, burns and sometimes surgery.

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