PMID: 235231Apr 1, 1975Paper

Smoking as a cause of erythrocytosis

Annals of Internal Medicine
A L Sagone, S P Balcerzak


Five smokers had erythrocyte masses sufficiently larger than normal to pose a problem in the differential diagnosis of polycythemia. Evaluation excluded lung disease, shunt physiology, hemoglobin with increased oxygen affinity, erythropoietin-producing tumor, renal disease, or polycythemia rubra vera as the primary cause of erythrocytosis in these patients. All were found to have levels of carboxyhemoglobin sufficient to cause clinically significant hypoxemia and to account for the increased erythrocyte masses. In two patients the erythrocytosis improved when they stopped smoking. Heavy smoking is a reversible cause of polycythemia and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of this problem.


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