One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An abnormally increased concentration of haemoglobin in the blood, either through reduction of plasma volume or increase in red cell numbers. It may be a primary disease of unknown cause, or a secondary condition linked to respiratory or circulatory disorder or cancer.
- ‘The differential diagnoses included chronic hepatitis, idiopathic urticaria, uremia, polycythemia, thyroid disease, and malignancy, among others.’
- ‘Severe polycythaemia increases the viscosity of the blood and probably leads to problems with unloading oxygen from the blood to the tissues.’
- ‘Because in chronic pulmonary disease both hypoxemia and polycythemia are simultaneously present, their individual effects on the pulmonary circulation have been difficult to define.’
- ‘This is more than twice the production rate in adults, primarily because of relative polycythemia and increased red blood cell turnover in neonates.’
- ‘In patients with chronic hypoxemic lung disease, polycythemia has been shown to impair the vasodilator response to acetylcholine.’
Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from poly- ‘many’ + -cyte ‘cell’ + haemo- ‘blood’ + -ia.
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