Polycythemia vera (PV) is a rare blood disease in which your body makes too many red blood cells. The extra red blood cells make your blood thicker than normal. As a result, blood clots can form more easily and block blood flow through your arteries and veins. The condition can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Moreover, thicker blood also flows more slowly to all parts of your body, preventing your organs from getting enough oxygen. This can cause other serious complications, such as angina and heart failure.
In this condition, your bone marrow makes too many red blood cells. It also can make too many white blood cells and platelets. A mutation, or change, in the body's JAK2 gene is believed to be the reason behind polycythemia vera. It is the JAK2 gene that makes an important protein that helps the body produce blood cells.
PV generally isn't passed from parent to child. The condition is rare and there are only five new cases occur each year per every 1 million people. The condition is more common in adults who are older than 60. It rarely affects people who are younger than 20. Men are at slightly higher risk for PV than women.
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