Haemoglobin (Hb)
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markerhaemoglobinfull blood count

Haemoglobin (Hb)

April 28, 2022

Haemoglobin (Hb)

What is haemoglobin (Hb)?

Hemoglobin is a protein molecule found in red blood cells (erythrocytes) that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without hemoglobin, your red blood cells cannot deliver the oxygen that your cells need to produce energy. Hemoglobin is vital for human life.

Hemoglobin is a tetramer with four polypeptide chains — two alpha (α) and two beta (β) chains. Each of the polypeptide chains has a heme prosthetic group and an iron atom.

The heme group contains a red pigment called porphyrin. Iron attaches itself to porphyrin. When iron binds to oxygen, the porphyrin transforms blood into a vibrant red color. When it’s not bound to oxygen, it makes blood appear purplish-blue.

Each iron atom binds to one oxygen molecule. And since hemoglobin has four iron atoms, each one carries four oxygen molecules as it moves through your body.

In adults, the predominant hemoglobin is α2β2. It is also commonly called hemoglobin A1 (HbA).

Why is this analysis important?

Low or high hemoglobin causes are medical conditions that change the way your red blood cells behave or how many red blood cells you have at a certain time.

Sometimes, deficiencies in iron can cause your hemoglobin levels to decline. When your body’s iron concentrations are getting low, you may progress from mild iron deficiency to iron-deficiency erythropoiesis to iron deficiency anemia (IDA). IDA is typically characterized by low hemoglobin levels.

What are some of the causes of high levels of Hemoglobin?

A high hemoglobin count is associated with high hemoglobin levels, which means that your hemoglobin has an increased oxygen-carrying capacity than normal.

  • A high hemoglobin level may indicate

  • Lung disease

  • Heart disease

  • Polycythemia vera

  • Kidney tumors

  • Dehydration

  • Hypoxia

  • Carbon monoxide exposure

  • High altitude

What are some of the causes of low levels of Hemoglobin?

A low hemoglobin count means that the oxygen-carrying capacity of your hemoglobin is reduced. Consult with your doctor if you suspect that your hemoglobin is low.

According to the Mayo Clinic, low hemoglobin levels can indicate that an individual has certain medical conditions, including:

  • Aplastic anemia

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Cirrhosis

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Iron deficiency anemia

  • Lead poisoning

  • Myelodysplastic syndrome

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Vitamin deficiency anemia

  • Certain cancers

Researchers have also discovered that lower hemoglobin levels are associated with larger infarction at the time an acute ischemic stroke happens in a patient.

Other considerations

In many cases hemoglobin levels are low due to a deficiency in iron. Iron deficiency can lead to low hemoglobin levels because hemoglobin contains iron atoms as one of its main components. In fact, approximately two-thirds of your body’s iron is found in heme.

Normal hemoglobin is known as Hemoglobin A1 (HbA). However, there’s another type of hemoglobin known as hemoglobin A1c or glycated hemoglobin. Hemoglobin A1c is hemoglobin that has glucose attached to it.