What is polycythemia vera?
Polycythemia vera (PV) is a rare disease in which the body produces too many red blood cells. Blood may become too thick. This causes serious health problems. PV increases the risk of abnormal blood clots that can cause a stroke. This disease occurs most often in people who are around 60 years or more.
How will my life be with PV?
PV is a serious disease that can cause death, especially if untreated. However, some new treatments, people with the disease have longer lives, and many come to have a normal life expectancy.
What are the symptoms of PV?
In its early stages, usually the PV causes no symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Itching or flushing of the skin.
- A tingling or burning in hands and feet.
What is the cause of PV?
The PV begins in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones is that produces blood cells. When the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, the result is PV.
What is the treatment?
There is no single treatment for PV. Physicians should tailor treatment to each patient. Treatment may include phlebotomy. In this treatment, a little blood is drawn to help keep the amount of red blood cells and reduce the risk of blood clots. It is also possible that the processing involves a drug that prevents bone marrow from making too many red blood cells or to help reduce the risk of blood clots. Doctors can also treat itching and burning that you can experience.
There is no cure at present for PV. The goal is to improve their quality of life by treating symptoms and help you live longer.