What is polycythemia vera, and who is at risk of acquiring this rare medical condition?
Polycythemia vera is an iatric disorder that multiplies the number of erythorcytes in a human body. This condition is life-threatening because having an excessive number of red blood cells could result in the viscosity of the blood, reducing blood circulation. This results in blood clots, which may lead to heart failure or stroke. If not treated properly, this disorder could progress to more serious blood cancers, such as acute leukemia.
The disease is known to develop slowly, and the symptoms may not occur evidently. Some people are clueless unless they’re diagnosed by a doctor.
To have ample knowledge of PV, let’s discuss the symptoms which are ordinary yet could be a sign of blood disorder:
- Gum bleeding
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Sudden weight loss
- Swelling of joints
How Could a Person Acquire Polycythemia Vera?
In a normal state, your body regulates the number of the blood cells you have – white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. However, in polycythemia vera, your bone marrow abnormally produces too many blood cells.
According to a study, PV is developed by the protein switch that commands cells to multiply. Most people who have PV have this kind of protein mutation. This mutation remains uncertain until now, but it has been assured that is not inherited.
Treatment for PV mainly focuses on reducing the number of blood cells. These normally include:
- Low-dose aspirin
This is what the doctor usually recommends since low-dose aspirin could reduce the risk of blood clots.
- Hydroxyurea (Hydrea)
This is highly advised for people who are diagnosed with primary PV as they have high risks of a blood clot.
- Oxygen supplementation
Advised for patients with secondary PV who also acquired lung and heart disease.
There are studies linking polycythemia vera to thyroid disorders. According to FDA reports, people aged 60 and above who were diagnosed with PV later on acquired hypothyroidism. Most of those diagnosed were men.
A common form of thyroid disorder is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a disorder where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This leads to lower metabolism.
Furthermore, thyroid hormones have a critical role in the formation and proliferation of cells. If thyroid hormones malfunctioned, it could result in production disorder of blood cells.
Those who were diagnosed with PV and acquired hypothyroidism after having some abnormal health conditions. Among these conditions are hyperuricemia (the level of uric acid is abnormally high), high blood pressure, and chronic myeloid leukemia.
According to studies, people who have these diagnoses are taking some drugs to treat the persistent complications. Some of the drugs are:
A medicine used to reduce the need for blood transfusions. This medicine is also known as a treatment for cancer types such as squamous cell carcinomas and chronic myelogenous leukemia.
This medicine is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. Patients used this to recover after a heart attack and lower the chances of heart failure.
A drug for lowering high levels of blood sugar.
Used to avert the increase of uric acid levels in patients who receive chemotherapy for cancer.
Known to be a cancer medicine the prevents the growth and dispersion of cancer cells.
On the other hand, few patients with hypothyroidism were reported to adopt PV, after that. According to FDA Studies, in this case, women are more likely at risk unlike those who had PV first after acquiring hypothyroidism. They suffer from health conditions such as iron overload, high blood pressure, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Some drugs are also prescribed by doctors to alleviate the treatment. Some of those are:
A medicine is known as a lipid-lowering agent.
A drug that replaces thyroid hormones.
A cancer medication used to slow or stop the cancer cells growth. Moreover, it treats anemia for people with a blood disorder.
Used to treat bacterial infections that cause bronchitis or pneumonia.
A medicine used to treat infections from certain bacteria.
People diagnosed with the abovementioned blood disorder relating to polycythemia vera are already at high risk to acquire a complex form of their current burden.
This study also shows that people who were suffering from post-hypothyroidism (men) are more likely to survive. Aside from the strong resistance to the side effects of the treatment, the medicines that are made available for them are proven effective. However, people with hypothyroidism and later on polycythemia vera considers the drugs they take ineffective.