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What is RDW in a blood test

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The results of a blood test can often be unsettling. Most people do not know the names or the meanings of all the acronyms that appear in the results; for that reason, we are alarmed when we see something that, in theory, does not add up.

One of the common questions when they give us the sheet with the results, is: What is the RDW in a blood test? In the following FastlyHealarticle, we explain what it means, what happens if you have abnormal values ​​and other data that may be of interest to you when it comes to an understanding of the results of a blood test.

What RDW means in a blood test

As you can guess, RDW is an abbreviation and an acronym in English for ” red blood cell distribution, “that is, RDW means: red blood cell distribution width. The RDW parameters calculate the different sizes of the red blood cells in your bloodstream based on your sample.

The RDW serves doctors as a test for the diagnosis of anemia, or lack of iron, so an abnormal count in this section helps to define what type of anemia you suffer from. Although many people believe anemia is not a unique condition, there are more than 40 different types. FastlyHealyou can find information about pernicious anemiamegaloblastic anemiahemolytic anemia, or sickle cell anemia. These different types are distinguished by the cause that causes it, either by blood loss, that the body does not produce enough red blood cells or because these blood cells disappear from the blood.

Depending on the results of the RDW in the blood test, the doctors will be in charge of establishing whether they serve as a diagnosis of an underlying disease or its value is within normality. Below we will explain the average values ​​of RDW in blood and its possible variations.

RDW in blood: average value

The RDW in the blood is calculated from the division between the standard deviation and the mean corpuscular volume; this result must be multiplied by 100, giving us the RDW count. The average values ​​of RDW, that is, the RDW-CV, are between 11 and 14%, with 13% being the optimal value. High RDW-CV is when the count rises above 14%. At that moment, we can begin to suspect some disease-altering bodily functions.

In fact, in patients with cardiovascular disease or cancer, elevated RDW values ​​can play a crucial role in predicting mortality. Although both signify abnormal values, it has been shown that patients with higher RDW values ​​are more at risk than those with lower values.

Average values ​​of RDW and MCV

We cannot talk about average RDW counts and values ​​in blood tests without considering MCV. These acronyms correspond to the mean corpuscle value, and their analysis is closely linked to that of the RDW. Depending on the results of one and the other, it is influenced and can suggest different diagnoses. Various combinations can occur and can mean multiple pathologies:

  • Normal RDW and low MCV: May indicate chronic disease.
  • Low RDW and low MCV: Usually signify iron deficiency.
  • Normal RDW and normal MCV: It can be a chronic disorder.
  • High RDW and normal MCV: This may be due to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Normal RDW and high MCV: Possibility of pre-leukemia.
  • High RDW and high MCV : This may be due to folate deficiency.

RDW alto o anisocytosis

High levels of RDW in the blood are relatively common; in fact, any relatively normal condition can cause it. Some of the possible causes of high RDW are:

  • A recent infection.
  • Play a lot of sports.
  • Have you taken any medication?

All of these conditions can increase the count for this parameter. For this reason, in the presence of anisocytosis, many doctors rule out any diagnosis if there are no other factors that may suggest an underlying disease.

Blood tests are a great diagnostic tool to aid the medical task of identifying disease. However, with blood tests alone, a condition cannot be 100% predicted or diagnosed.

Suppose you are not feeling well or suspect that something could be wrong with your body. In that case, we recommend that you go to your doctor for a complete physical examination and a thorough evaluation of your symptoms so that the analysis results can be better evaluated.

Low blood RDW or anisocytosis

If you have low blood RDW, a condition known medically as anisocytosis, you should know that it has no clinical significance, so you should not worry. RDW is only significant when it is high when it serves to differentiate different types of anemia.

You have to be clear about what the RDW means to understand this. The RDW tells us about the differences between the size of red blood cells, so the smaller its value is, the more similar the size of the red blood cells is to each other. That is why a low RDW is not bad; we might even see it as a positive.

Low RDW: causes

As we just explained, a low RDW blood test doesn’t mean a bad thing. Just as a high RDW can indicate some health problems, no disease manifests itself through low RDW. Nor is lifestyle or drug intake going to change these results. Thus, we could conclude that a low RDW is simply due to the characteristics of that person.

Returning to the same thing, as an RDW is not a sign of any disease or represents any problem for the person, it is not necessary to follow any treatment to raise those levels.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is RDW in a blood test , we recommend that you enter our category of Blood, heart and circulation .

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