DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Polycythemia vera is a blood disorder in which your bone marrow makes too many red blood cells. Polycythemia vera also may result in production of too many of the other types of blood cells — white blood cells and platelets. But it's the excess red blood cells that thicken your blood and cause most of the concerns associated with polycythemia vera.
Polycythemia vera — also called primary polycythemia — is rare and usually develops slowly. You may have it for years without noticing signs or symptoms. Often, polycythemia vera is found during a blood test done for some other reason.
Without treatment, polycythemia vera can be life-threatening. However, with proper medical care, many people experience few problems related to this disease.
- Hoffman R, et al. The polycythemias. In: Hoffman R, et al. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06715-0..X5001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06715-0&uniqId=230100505-56. Accessed March 1, 2011.
- Polycythemia vera. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/poly/poly_whatis.html. Accessed March 1, 2011.