What is it?

Secondary polycythemia refers to a rare condition which is characterized by overproduction of red blood cells. Excess red blood cells cause the thickening of the blood which increases the risk for stroke. Causes for secondary polycythemia include obstructive sleep apnea, smoking, obesity hypoventilation syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and some medications such as diuretics and testosterone.

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, weakness, and anorexia.


Diagnosis is based upon findings from medical history and physical examination. Further evaluation may include blood tests and other diagnostic tests such as an echocardiogram, CT scan or ultrasound.


Treatment depends on the underlying cause. For symptom alleviation, phlebotomy may be suggested.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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