Ask the expert

How can I lower my mcv blood count?

3 November 2020

The MCV or ‘Mean Corpuscular Volume’ count, is tested as part of a routine blood test called the ‘Full Blood Count’ and measures the average size of our red blood cells. You may have found that your MCV level is slightly raised incidentally as part of a routine blood test, or this may have been specifically tested to try and discover a cause for any underlying symptoms. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen from our lungs to all other areas of the body, so it’s important that we know whether these are ‘healthy’ or not.

The normal reference range for the MCV result is usually between 80-100fl, so you are right, your level is slightly above the normal reference range. The fact that your result has remained stable over three years is a good sign that would likely indicate that if there was any underlying cause, this doesn’t appear to be worsening. When we have an abnormal MCV count, a number of symptoms may become apparent.

Symptoms of abnormal MCV (either high of low) may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
  • Chest pain
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Fatigue or weakness.

However please note that these symptoms are quite general in nature and can be related to a number of different causes, so it’s always best to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

I am glad that you've spoken to your GP and seen the appropriate specialist doctor in the Haematology team. The fact that they do not seem concerned should be reassuring for you. 

For information, there are some underlying health conditions that may lead to an abnormal MCV count

Reduced MCV can indicate:

  • Chronic inflammatory disorders
  • Iron deficiency
  • Thalassaemia (an inherited blood disorder that affects the amount of haemoglobin a person creates).

Possible causes of an increased MCV count:

  • Folate or Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Liver disease
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Pregnancy
  • Some bone marrow disorders.

Next steps

If you have seen a specialist it’s likely that they have looked into all of the possible underlying causes, and in your case do not feel that any further input is required. I would say if you continue to feel well then it would be best to try not to worry about this. It may be a good idea to have regular check ups with your GP to monitor your level, so that if there any changes these can be investigated further. It is also a good idea to visit your GP if you develop any of the symptoms noted above.

You may also be interested in...

Blood tests - NHS factsheet

Health MOT's - AXA Health

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