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What is ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) in blood?

Friday, 22 November 2002
Answered by: S.K. Sood
Senior Consultant Haematologist
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital
New Delhi
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Q. What is ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) in blood? What is the effect on human body if the rate is high and how can one control it? Could it be a reason for headache? My blood report is as follows: Fasting blood glucose-97 mg/dl, Hb-12.5 g/dl, Total leucocyte count-7600/cumm, Neutrophils-64%, Lymphocytes-32%, Monocytes-0%, Eosinophils-4%, Basophils-0% and ESR (Westergren)-60 mm 1st hour.

A.  My response to your queries: 1. ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) in blood is the rate at which cells settle down when blood is placed in a tube under specified conditions. 2. High rate has no effect on the human body. The test is performed to monitor the progress of disease or to exclude certain diseases in which the ESR is often elevated. ESR is also elevated in anaemia, certain physiological conditions such as older age and pregnancy or even exercise immediately before the test is done. 3. ESR cannot be controlled as high ESR is the result and not the cause of any disease (e.g. headache) or a physiological condition. It should be interpreted by the attending physician along with the overall picture. 4. Blood report has to be interpreted according to age, sex and pregnancy. However, a blood glucose of 97 mg/dl is normal; Hb of 12.5 g/dl may indicate anaemia in an adult male; Total leucocyte count-7600/cumm is normal. Neutrophils - 64%, Lymphocytes - 32.0%, Eosinophils - 4.0%, are normal. ESR-Westergren - 60 mm (1st hour) is elevated and should be interpreted by the physician along with the clinical profile.

A.  My response to your queries: 1. ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) in blood is the rate at which cells settle down when blood is placed in a tube under specified conditions. 2. High rate has no effect on the human body. The test is performed to monitor the progress of disease or to exclude certain diseases in which the ESR is often elevated. ESR is also elevated in anaemia, certain physiological conditions such as older age and pregnancy or even exercise immediately before the test is done. 3. ESR cannot be controlled as high ESR is the result and not the cause of any disease (e.g. headache) or a physiological condition. It should be interpreted by the attending physician along with the overall picture. 4. Blood report has to be interpreted according to age, sex and pregnancy. However, a blood glucose of 97 mg/dl is normal; Hb of 12.5 g/dl may indicate anaemia in an adult male; Total leucocyte count-7600/cumm is normal. Neutrophils - 64%, Lymphocytes - 32.0%, Eosinophils - 4.0%, are normal. ESR-Westergren - 60 mm (1st hour) is elevated and should be interpreted by the physician along with the clinical profile.

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