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What does thickening of blood mean?

Thursday, 02 December 2004
Answered by: Dr. Shirish Kumar
Consultant Haematologist,
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,
New Delhi

Q. I have undergone a full body check up in the last week. On going through the reports my doctor told me that the blood is getting thick and prescribed a special diet and asked me to get a full checkup again after a month. Further, till date I have no problems like diabetes or low/high blood pressure. I will be highly obliged if you could please tell me what thickening of blood means and how serious a condition it is?

A.  Strictly speaking, there is no such term as blood thickening. There are a few disease states where the blood becomes more viscous than normal due to tumour cells producing proteins (as in Waldenstroms macroglobulinaemia & multiple myeloma syndromes). In any condition where there is loss of fluid from the body (hypovolemia) like protracted diarrhoea, vomiting, burns, haemorrhage etc, there is a shift of fluid and the blood becomes apparently thick. Also, in a condition called thrombocytosis (an increase in a type of blood cells called platelets), there is a tendency of blood to form clots within blood vessels (thrombosis). You need to discuss with your doctor and find out exactly what the problem is.

A.  Strictly speaking, there is no such term as blood thickening. There are a few disease states where the blood becomes more viscous than normal due to tumour cells producing proteins (as in Waldenstroms macroglobulinaemia & multiple myeloma syndromes). In any condition where there is loss of fluid from the body (hypovolemia) like protracted diarrhoea, vomiting, burns, haemorrhage etc, there is a shift of fluid and the blood becomes apparently thick. Also, in a condition called thrombocytosis (an increase in a type of blood cells called platelets), there is a tendency of blood to form clots within blood vessels (thrombosis). You need to discuss with your doctor and find out exactly what the problem is.

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