Wondering Why?

Why is RDW high?

The letters “RDW” stand for “red blood cell distribution width.” As per the tests conducted in the laboratory available online, the RDW is used for calculating the different sizes of the red blood cell volume of the blood sample. The test for the RDW is done normally as a part of complete blood count. The concept of RDW is associated with the concept of the mean cell value (MCV). The RDW accompanies the MCV in the situations of anemia and other disorders associated with hematology. The two values of the MCV and RDW are influenced by one another. The MCV values that are low when combined along with the normal form of the RDW might result in chronic diseases. The low measure of the MCV along with a low RDW indicates a deficiency of iron. The normal MCV reading combined with a normal RDW result in a chronic disorder again. A high RDW reading along with a normal MCV will indicate a B12 deficiency. Pre-leukemia is thought to be present at the high MCV and normal RDW values. A folate deficiency is observed in the case of high readings of both the MCV and the RDW.

RDW = (standard deviation/MCV) * 100

The RDW values have the range between 11  and 14 per cent. The optimum RDW value is considered as 13 per cent. Many disorders are detected when the measure of the RDW goes high. The RDW count is found to be useful for mortality prediction in the patients suffering from cancer and cardiovascular disease. In general, it was observed that people who have higher RDW values were having health problems compared to those who have lower RDW values.

The high value of RDW represents that the red blood cells vary in their volume in a wide range. This might happen due to the presence of large or small red blood cells or both at the same time. For instance, enhanced, immature red blood cell numbers due to the response of regeneration from anemia will make the value of the RDW to rise. This is because the immature, red blood cells are anucleate and they are more in number than the normal cells. If the small-sized cells are also more in number, then it can lead to an increased RDW. The observation of the blood smear will help us  identify the number of small cells and large cells. The fewer number of large and small-sized red blood cells will enhance the RDW value prior to the identification of a change in the MCV.

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