ZocdocAnswersWhat are the risks associated with having surgery if your RBC is high?

Question

What are the risks associated with having surgery if your RBC is high?

I didn't ask what % my hematocrit was. I know I should have but I forgot. My EKG was normal and they said my sugar levels were borderline or pre diabetic. My mother and grandfather both had type II diabetes. My blood pressure is perfect and I am actively working out 3-4 times a week. I am slightly overweight and I am a vegetarian that eats fish. One more item that may be noteworthy is that as a child, I had glomerular nephritis. And for many years now I have been taking a diuretic (HCTZ) (75/50 I believe). Could this be causing dehydration? I find I am sweating a lot now as well and probably don't replenish enough. I also have been given some testosterone cream and HCG injections to help my hormonal changes. However, I am very inconsistent with the cream. Could any of these regimens be affecting my count?

Answer

Thanks for your questions. I recommend that you discuss your concern with your doctor. To answer your first question first, there are some situations in which an elevated level of red blood cells (RBCs) can be very beneficial before surgery. Some examples include surgery in which it is expected that there will be a large amount of blood loss. These red blood cells can also be beneficial as they help to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles of your body, specifically your heart, and so there are some surgeons who feel that the risk of peri operative heart problems may be reduced by having more red blood cells. On the other hand, if the levels are too high, it can lead to an increased risk of blood clots in the legs, which can then result in these clots being sent up through the blood stream and their lodging in the lungs, which can be life threatening. Depending on the type and length of surgery that you are planning, this may affect your risk as well. Overall, the lifestyle that you describe appears to be quite healthy and should help to improve your quality of life and decrease your risks near the time of surgery. Please speak with your doctor about this question.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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