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What High MCV Levels Mean: Unraveling the Clues to Your Health

what does it mean if my mcv levels are high

High MCV Levels: What Do They Mean and What Should You Do?

If you've recently had a complete blood count (CBC) test and your results show high MCV levels, you may be wondering what this means. MCV, or mean corpuscular volume, is a measure of the average size of your red blood cells. High MCV levels can indicate a number of underlying conditions, some of which can be serious. In this blog post, we'll discuss what high MCV levels mean and what you should do if your results show elevated levels.

Elevated mean corpuscular volume (MCV) levels can sometimes indicate underlying health conditions that lead to larger-than-normal red blood cells, such as nutritional deficiencies, liver disease, or bone marrow disorders. High MCV can also be a sign of certain types of anemia and leukemia.

High MCV levels can be caused by a variety of factors, including vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, liver disease, alcoholism, hypothyroidism, and a number of medications, such as certain chemotherapy drugs. In some cases, high MCV levels can also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

If you have high MCV levels, your doctor will likely recommend further testing to determine the cause. Treatment for high MCV levels will depend on the underlying cause. For example, if your high MCV levels are due to a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, your doctor will likely recommend taking supplements of these vitamins. If your high MCV levels are due to a more serious condition, such as leukemia or lymphoma, your doctor will likely recommend more aggressive treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

What Does It Mean If My MCV Levels Are High?

blood cells diagram


The mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a measure of the average size of red blood cells (RBCs). High MCV levels, a condition known as macrocytosis, can indicate underlying health issues. In this article, we'll explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options associated with high MCV levels.

Causes of High MCV Levels

There are several factors that can contribute to elevated MCV levels, including:

1. Vitamin Deficiencies

Deficiencies of specific vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and folate, can lead to the development of macrocytic anemia, characterized by abnormally large RBCs.

2. Alcoholism

Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with the production of RBCs, resulting in macrocytosis.

3. Liver Disorders

Liver diseases, such as cirrhosis and hepatitis, can impair the liver's ability to produce proteins necessary for RBC production, leading to high MCV levels.

4. Thyroid Problems

Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland, can cause macrocytosis due to decreased production of thyroid hormones.

5. Bone Marrow Disorders

Certain bone marrow disorders, including myelodysplastic syndromes and aplastic anemia, can disrupt the production of healthy RBCs, leading to macrocytosis.

6. Medications

Some medications, such as anticonvulsants and chemotherapy drugs, can cause high MCV levels as a side effect.

Symptoms of High MCV Levels

The symptoms of macrocytosis are often nonspecific and can vary depending on the underlying cause. Common symptoms may include:

1. Fatigue

Extreme tiredness and lack of energy.

2. Weakness

Loss of strength in the muscles.

3. Shortness of Breath

Difficulty catching one's breath.

4. Pale Skin

Lack of color in the skin due to low red blood cell count.

5. Headache

Dull, persistent pain in the head.

6. Tingling or Numbness

Sensation of pins and needles or loss of feeling in the hands and feet.

7. Weight Loss

Unintentional decrease in body weight.

Treatment Options for High MCV Levels

The treatment for high MCV levels depends on the underlying cause:

1. Vitamin Supplementation

For vitamin deficiencies, treatment involves taking vitamin supplements or consuming a diet rich in the deficient vitamin.

2. Avoiding Alcohol

In cases of alcoholism, abstaining from alcohol consumption can help improve MCV levels.

3. Managing Liver Diseases

Treatment for liver disorders aims to address the underlying cause and improve liver function.

4. Thyroid Hormone Replacement

For hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone replacement therapy can help normalize MCV levels.

5. Bone Marrow Treatment

In cases of bone marrow disorders, treatment options may include medications, blood transfusions, or bone marrow transplantation.

6. Adjusting Medications

If certain medications are causing high MCV levels, the doctor may adjust the dosage or switch to an alternative medication.

Prevention of High MCV Levels

While not all causes of high MCV levels are preventable, certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk:

1. Balanced Diet

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential nutrients for healthy blood cell production.

2. Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Limiting alcohol intake can help prevent liver damage and reduce the risk of macrocytosis.

3. Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity promotes overall health and well-being, which can positively impact red blood cell production.

4. Avoid Smoking

Smoking can exacerbate vitamin deficiencies and contribute to the development of macrocytosis.

5. Vaccinations

Staying up-to-date with vaccinations can protect against infections that may lead to anemia.


High MCV levels can be an indication of underlying health issues. Consulting a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is crucial. Early detection and appropriate intervention can help manage the condition and prevent potential complications.


  1. What are normal MCV levels?

Normal MCV levels typically range from 80 to 96 femtoliters (fL).

  1. Can high MCV levels be a sign of cancer?

Elevated MCV levels can be associated with certain types of cancer, but they are not a specific indicator. Further tests and evaluation by a healthcare provider are necessary to determine the underlying cause.

  1. What are the long-term effects of high MCV levels?

Untreated high MCV levels can lead to complications such as heart failure, stroke, and nerve damage.

  1. How is macrocytic anemia diagnosed?

Macrocytic anemia is diagnosed through a complete blood count (CBC) test, which measures the size and number of red blood cells.

  1. Can high MCV levels be inherited?

Some genetic disorders, such as Fanconi anemia, can cause high MCV levels. However, most cases of macrocytosis are acquired.

Video What Does It Mean If Your MCV Blood Test Is High?
Source: CHANNET YOUTUBE Southwest Integrative Medicine