Red Blood Cell Count (RBC, RBC Count, Red Count, Erythrocyte Count)
Erythrocytes are red blood cells delivering oxygen to the body tissues and maintaining biological oxidation processes occurring in the body.
Red blood cells are the body’s principal means to transport oxygen. Moreover, red blood cells exchange lipids with the blood plasma, transporting amino-acid residues, biologically active substances. Red blood cellsmaintain the body’s acid-base balance and ionic equilibrium and participate in water-salt metabolism. Also, they participate in the body’s immune processes absorbing toxins which then break down. Red blood cells play an important role in blood coagulation (thromboplastin production).
High red blood cell counts (erythrocytosis) are generally caused by hemoconcentration due to dehydration (excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, etc.) and are also associated with some rare diseases of blood-forming organs.
Low red blood cell counts (erythropenia) could be a symptom of anemia due to blood loss, hemolysis, or vitamin B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cyanocobalamin) deficiency.
During pregnancy, the blood volume increases. However, the plasma volume increases faster than the blood cell mass. As a result, there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells relative to the blood volume, while the absolute count of red blood cells remains within the normal range.