Haemoglobin (Hb) is a protein contained in red blood cells which carries oxygen. A low Haemoglobin or “blood count” is known as anaemia.
How the Test is Performed?
Haemoglobin (Hb) may be performed as a simple bedside test on a fingerprick sample of blood using a hand-held colour-comparison device.
It may also be performed as a laboratory blood test, usually as part of a Full Blood Count (FBC), on a few millilitres of blood from a vein.
What’s The Normal Range of Haemoglobin?
- Normal haemoglobin levels are approximately 110-180 grams/litre in men and 115-165 g/l in women. (Many labs use grams/decilitre, g/dl, for which normal values are 11-18 rather than 110-180)
- Erythropoietin (EPO) and other treatments aim to get dialysis patients close to normal (usually over 110 g/l)
Why It’s Done?
Haemoglobin (Hb) may be requested to diagnose or exclude anaemia (low blood count) – which causes tiredness, shortness of breath on exertion and possibly postural light-headedness.
An increased Haemoglobin may be present in smokers or those with chronic lung disease, and causes a plethoric or “ruddy” complexion.
Test Results Explained
A LOW Haemoglobin (Hb) is called anaemia, and has a variety of causes, including chronic (over a long time) blood loss, destruction of red cells, decreased blood cell formation in the bone marrow, defective production of haemoglobin, or chronic illness.
A HIGH Haemoglobin (Hb) is called polycythaemia and may be caused by smoking, chronic lung disease or a blood condition called polycythaemia rubra vera (PRV).