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Blood viscosity is a measure of the resistance of blood to flow, which is being deformed by either shear stress or extensional stress.

Blood is a liquid consists of plasma and particles, such as the red blood cells. The viscosity of blood thus depends on the viscosity of the plasma, in combination with the hematocrit. The viscosity of normal blood is about three times as great as the viscosity of water. When the hematocrit rises to 60 or 70, which it often does in polycythemia,[1] the blood viscosity can become as great as 10 times that of water, and its flow through blood vessels is greatly retarded because of increased resistance to flow.[2] This will lead to decreased oxygen delivery.[3]

Plasma viscosity is determined by water-content and macromolecular components, so these factors that affect blood viscosity are the plasma protein concentration and types of proteins in the plasma, but these effects are so much less than the effect of hematocrit that they are not significant,[4] and elevation of plasma viscosity correlates to the progression of coronary and peripheral vascular diseases.[4][1] Anemia can lead to decrease blood viscosity, which may lead to heart failure.

Other factors influencing blood viscosity include temperature, where an increase in temperature results in a decrease in viscosity. This is particularly important in hypothermia, where an increase in blood viscosity will cause problems with blood circulation.

See also


  1. ^ a b Tefferi A (May 2003). "A contemporary approach to the diagnosis and management of polycythemia vera". Curr. Hematol. Rep. 2 (3): 237–41. PMID 12901345.  
  2. ^ Lenz C, Rebel A, Waschke KF, Koehler RC, Frietsch T (2008). "Blood viscosity modulates tissue perfusion: sometimes and somewhere". Transfus Altern Transfus Med 9 (4): 265–272. doi:10.1111/j.1778-428X.2007.00080.x. PMID 19122878.  
  3. ^ Kwon O, Krishnamoorthy M, Cho YI, Sankovic JM, Banerjee RK (February 2008). "Effect of blood viscosity on oxygen transport in residual stenosed artery following angioplasty". J Biomech Eng 130 (1): 011003. doi:10.1115/1.2838029. PMID 18298179.  
  4. ^ a b Késmárky G, Kenyeres P, Rábai M, Tóth K (2008). "Plasma viscosity: a forgotten variable". Clin. Hemorheol. Microcirc. 39 (1-4): 243–6. PMID 18503132.  


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