There are a number of health conditions that the HCT auto blood test is able to detect or monitor. It measures what may occur when there are differences to the proportion of red blood cells in the blood compared to what normally should be there. It is often ordered as part of a complete blood count, but may also be ordered independently if there are certain health issues suspected or which require ongoing monitoring.
The most common health condition is anemia. It can detect low red blood cell numbers, low HCT and low hemoglobin levels. It can also detect high levels that may be leading toward toxicity. Medical providers will also use the HCT auto blood test to monitor anemia treatments, use the information to determine if blood transfusions are necessary, or even evaluate the severity of chronic dehydration.
It is typically ordered when there are signs and symptoms which may lead a medical provider to believe that anemia is a possibility. This includes an overall lack of energy, a pale complexion, shortness of breath, and unusual weakness. Disturbed vision, headaches, and flushing may be an indication of polycythemia, which the HCT auto blood test can also detect.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
In the average blood test sample, red blood cells will usually make up to 49% of the blood’s total volume. Someone with red blood cells as few as 37% of the blood volume, however, will still be considered within the normal range. Individual variability may also affect the results, as ethnicity, rate, gender, and age may affect the overall volume.
If the HCT auto blood test results are below 37%, then this is considered a low test result. This typically means that there is some form of anemia present. It can also mean there is a defect in the red blood cells themselves, such as a sickle cell disorder, or deficiencies in the enzymes that help to make the red blood cells.
Excessive bleeding is also a common cause of a low test result. This is normally seen in the digestive tract with an ulcer, polyps, or even cancer. Trauma to the digestive tract or heavy menstrual bleeding will also create this result, as will chronic inflammatory disorders. Low test results can also be seen when there is an iron, B12, or folate deficiency present.
The most common cause of high test results above 49% is dehydration. When the volume of fluids within the body drops, the actual percentage of red blood cells of the blood rises. Smoking and living at high altitudes are also common reason for higher than normal test results.
There are some serious conditions may also create high HCT auto blood test results. In some instances of congenital heart disease, reduced oxygen levels may occur if there is an abnormal connection between each side of the heart. Because of the lack of oxygen, there are more red blood cells produced. The same is true with lung diseases or disorders that do not supply enough oxygen to the body.
There are also genetic causes which may create higher than normal levels of red blood cells in the blood. Blood transfusions are known to affect results, as will a confirmed pregnancy.
Here’s What You Need To Know
The HCT auto blood test can only be conducted at an approved medical facility. There are no accurate home testing kits that are available for this blood test. The measurement comes not from a total count of red blood cells, but through the use of a centrifuge or calculation of blood cell values.
People with certain medical conditions will naturally have lower HCT auto levels that are detected with this blood test. Someone with an autoimmune disorder, such as celiac disease that is not well managed or rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic infection, or cancer will have test results that may put them in the low results range.
Certain people are also at risk for having abnormal HCT auto blood test results. Those with poor nutritional habits, lack access to vitamins or iron, or have recently had a surgery may not have accurate test results. Severe injuries that involve prolonged bleeding may also affect results. If there is a sickle cell disease present, then there will be an ongoing risk of anemia that may need to be managed over the course of a lifetime.
The HCT auto blood test results are often part of an annual exam. Having it ordered is not an indication that a medical provider believes that there is a health problem which needs to be diagnosed. It can be used as a screening tool or a monitoring tool based on the medical history of the patient involved. Only medical providers are able to interpret test result and how they relate to an individual’s medical history, so schedule an appointment and discuss any questions or concerns about specific results that may have been received.