Polycythemia is a condition that results in an increased level of circulating red blood cells (RBC) in the blood. This can be due to primary or secondary causes. In primary polycythemia, which is due to inherent or genetic causes, the two main conditions that belong to this category are polycythemia vera and primary familial and congenital polycythemia . In secondary polycythemia, more red cells are produced because of high levels of circulating erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys to promote RBC production. This occurs in conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, COPD and congestive heart failure.
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