What is blood count?

Your blood count can reveal hidden information about your health and risk for disease. Knowing what a blood count is and how it affects you is critical to your overall health.

Read on to learn what a complete blood count says about your body.

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What Is a Blood Count?

Your blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells are responsible for sending oxygen through your body and helping to discard carbon dioxide, while white blood cells enable your body to fight off infections. Platelets control any bleeding by helping your body form clots.

When undergoing a complete blood count, your doctor is measuring the number and types of these blood cells in your body. Your blood count can help your doctor pinpoint diseases such as anemia or cancer, clotting issues, and infection. A blood count test also can help determine if you have an immune system disorder.

When Do You Need a Blood Count Test?

There are various reasons your doctor may order a blood count test, including to:

  • Evaluate your overall health
  • Monitor an ongoing health problem
  • Diagnose a specific health condition
  • Offer medical treatment for an illness or disease

Normal Blood Count Ranges

Normal blood count ranges depending on your gender and age. In general, the normal range for a red blood cell count is 4.5 to 5.5 million cells/mm3 if you’re male and 4 to 5 million cells/mm3 if you’re female.

For white blood cell count, the normal range is 5,000 to 10,000 cells/mm3, and for platelets, the typical range is 140,000 to 400,000/mm3.

Children and pregnant women may have different normal counts, so talk to your doctor about the results.

What Does a Blood Count Reveal About Your Health?

A blood count test provides a variety of information about your health. For example, a low red blood cell count could mean you have anemia, while a low white blood cell count could signify neutropenia, a condition that puts you at a higher risk for infection.

An abnormal platelet count may indicate you have a blood clotting disorder, like thrombocytopenia. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment also can cause a low platelet count.

If you’re interested in finding out your blood count, ask your doctor if a complete blood count is right for you. A blood count test could help you improve your health or better monitor and treat an underlying health condition. Learn more about blood count testing at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.


About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.